No child should have to worry that they’ll be abused in their own home or attacked on their way to school. Yet every five minutes, a child dies as a result of violence. An estimated 120 million girls and 73 million boys have been victims of sexual violence, and almost one billion children are subjected to physical punishment on a regular basis. From babies to teenagers, children are being beaten, raped, and even murdered.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The agreement of a new set of universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by world leaders in 2015 presents an incredible opportunity to make ending violence against children a global priority for the first time.
SDG target 16.2 commits global leaders to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children” by 2030. Other related targets focus on ending all forms of violence against woman and girls (5.2); eliminating harmful practices, such as child marriage and FGM (5.3); and ending child labour in all its forms (8.7).
Towards a global partnership to end violence
But it’s not enough for world leaders to sign up to this target. We need world leaders to act. This is why Unicef is driving forward a new Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children to make this target a reality.
The Partnership brings together countries, civil society and key international partners to set out ambitious plans, build political will, and take action to keep children safe. It builds on previous partnership efforts to tackle violence against children (such as Together for Girls), greatly expanding the concept, capacity and funding to tackle this issue at a truly global level.
What’s the UK’s role in ending violence against children?
Building on the UK’s leadership in tackling child violence such as FGM and online sexual exploitation, there is a strong case for the UK to be at the forefront of the Partnership.
Joining the Partnership’s board as a founding partner in 2016, the UK can now go further by becoming part of a group of “pathfinder” countries. These countries – both rich and poor, and spread across the globe – will act as the bedrock of the partnership; all committing to implement domestic and international action plans to tackle violence against children.
Working together to share knowledge and successes, the pathfinders will help to demonstrate that ending violence against children is possible; over time, encouraging even more countries to help protect children in danger.
What works to prevent violence against children?
Together with international partners such as the World Health Organisation, Unicef is supporting the implementation of 7 evidence-based strategies, called INSPIRE, for ending violence against children.
These strategies include: strengthening attitudes that support non-violence; enforcing laws; creating safe environments for children; supporting parents and caregivers; increasing family incomes to reduce poverty; strengthening social services and equipping children with life-skills and education.