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Violence against children

 Violence against children has always been a concern worldwide especially in the third world. The purpose of this article is to know what constitutes or amounts to violence and what can be done to prevent it from happening.

The word violence means to assault; to injure; also, to bring by violence; to compel.

Is the use of physical force against persons that potentially causes fear, injuryor death. Damage, in some contexts, is also considered a form of violence.

The quality or state of being violent; highly excited action, whether physical or moral; vehemence; impetuosity; force.

The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal development or deprivation.

Child maltreatment is defined as: all forms of physical and /or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.(Adaptedfrom the WHO definition)

It occurs in many different settings. The perpetrators of child maltreatment may be:

1. Parents and other family members;

2. Friends; School friends

3. Acquaintances; Strangers;

4. Others in authority – such as teachers,

Soldiers, police officers and clergy; Employers;

5. Health care workers;

6. Other children

Types of Violence

In order to develop effective interventions to address violence comprehensively, it is important to have an understanding of the different types of violence. Violence can be categorised in a number of ways. The World Health Organisation has developed the following useful typology that divides violence into three categories, based on the relationship between the perpetrator/s and the victim/s:

1. Self-directed violence includes suicidal behaviour and self-harm.

2. Interpersonal violence includes violence inflicted against one individual by another, or by a small group of individuals, and can be categorised as:

·                             Family and intimate partner violence; involving violence between family members, and intimate partners, including child abuse and elder abuse. This often takes place in the home.

·                             Community violence;  involving violence between people who are not related, and who may or may not know each other (acquaintances and strangers). It generally takes place outside the home in public places.

3. Collective violence includes violence inflicted by large groups such as states, organised political groups, militia groups or terrorist organisations.

The types of violence outlined above are distinguished by the relationship between the perpetrators and the victims of the violent behaviour. The violent behaviour can be further described in terms of whether it is physical, psychological, sexual, or involves deprivation and neglect.

This typology is useful for demonstrating the nature of the violence, the relationship between the offenders and victims, and the settings where violence occurs, i. e. within the family or the community.

For example, violence in public places can include intimidation, threats, and physical or sexual assaults, between friends or strangers. Child abuse in the home can include psychological, physical and sexual abuse and neglect.

Community Violence and Sexual Violence

The Government is interested in addressing all types of violence, and is continuing to develop measures to achieve this (as indicated in this document).

However, the types of violence that are the focus of this Action Plan are community violence and sexual violence,

Community violence  is defined for this Action Plan as: violence between people who are not related, and who may or may not know each other (acquaintances and strangers). It generally, but not always, takes place outside the home, in public places.

Sexual violence  is defined for this Action Plan as: any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, sexual harassment, or act directed against a person’s sexuality, using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. This includes various forms and contexts of sexual violence such as rape (within a relationship and by strangers or acquaintances), sexual abuse of mentally or physically disabled people and sexual abuse of children.

What factors put children at risk of violence?

·                             The  age, sex and gender of children play a big part – for example, young children are at greatest risk of physical violence, adolescents are more at risk of sexual violence, boys are at greater risk of physical violence, and girls face greater risk of sexual violence, neglect and forced prostitution

·                             Levels of income and education  of the perpetrators play an important role, as do patterns of behaviour that come from traditional beliefs and attitudes towards children

·                             Some  groups of children are especially vulnerable to violence – children with disabilities, those from minorities and other marginalised groups, ‘street children’, those in conflict with the law, and refugee and other displaced children

·                             General  trends that increase risk include growing income inequality, globalisation, migration, urbanisation, health threats, in particular the HIV and AIDS pandemic, technological advances and armed conflict, affect how we treat children. The use of drugs and alcohol and growing availability of firearms, in both urban and rural areas around the world, increase the risks and impact of violence

UN Study on Violence Against Children, published in October 2006

·                             53,000 children were murdered in 2002

·                             Between 20 and 65 per cent of school-aged children reported having been verbally or physically bullied

·                             150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence

·                             Between 100 and 140 million girls and women in the world have undergone some form of female genital cutting

·                             218 million children are involved in child labour, 126 million of those in hazardous work

·                             1.8 million are involved in prostitution and pornography

·                             1.2 million are victims of trafficking

Some of the major articles of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have dealt with the issue as under.

·                             Article 19

States parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

·                             Article 39

States parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

·                             States must submit reports to a committee that monitors implementation of children’s rights and Plan helps to compile alternative reports that are objective and present another perspective on how governments are performing.

How can violence against children be prevented?

Violence involving children in community settings can be prevented through adaptation of the following measures

·                             Universal Primary Education and raising the literacy rate.

·                             Education programmes which create awareness in the children on violence and its consequences.

·                             Life skills training;

·                             Assisting high-risk adolescents to complete schooling;

·                             Creation of awareness of the issue in the Community through awareness campaigns.

·                             Creation of gender equality rater equity which is a major cause of violence.

·                             Restricting access to firearms.

·                             Legislation by the governments and implementation of existing laws on child protection in a proper way.

·                             Stress management and managing psychological issues which are the main cause of violence.

·                             By making social protection strategies and reducing discrimination.

·                             The greater role played by NGOs/ CBO and other civil society organizations for the advocacy of the issue.

Sheryar Ahsan Khan
Legal & Development Consultant
0345 9681902

Sheryar Ahsan Khan is a Development professional/Consultant from Pakistan. He has an experience of more than 11 years working with different organizations. The prominent among them are NCHD, ERRA, and UNDP & UNESCO. Mr. Khan is also a Legal Consultant and possesses a degree in Law (LLB) & Masters in Political Science and Diploma in Development Studies. For Details: ,Email