Every day, children in all countries and all cultures experience violence. Children without parental care are among the most vulnerable to violence. The new report The Right to Protection: Ending Violence against Children (March 2017) exposes the various forms of violence and their impact on children’s lives. The report also describes how SOS Children’s Villages works with families and communities to prevent and reduce violence against children.
International law clearly establishes every child’s right to protection against violence. That right is underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Yet violence against children persists. Often, it remains hidden. Many cases are not reported or investigated.
Estimates suggest that one billion children all over the world experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence in 2014.
At least one in six children referred to an SOS Children’s Villages program for care and protection has previously experienced violence.
Devastating impact of violence
The impact of violence on a child is devastating. It can affect the child’s physical, psychological and mental health. Children who have experienced violence, are more likely to becoming violent themselves, passing on patterns of violence to their peers or to future generations. Without adequate support and care, violence and trauma can have long-term effects on a child’s development and future life.
Prevention and response in SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Villages is strongly committed to preventing all forms of violence against children and adolescents and to helping society do so too. SOS programs, policies and projects are designed to reduce the risk of violence against children and to respond in the best interest of the child if violence does happen. They aim at:
Supporting and strengthening families. Violence against children often occurs in the context of the family. Psychological, social and economic support for the family, as well as teaching techniques in positive parenting and non-violent discipline, encourages stable and positive relationships in families and reduces violence.
Empowering communities. Increasing awareness among national and community stakeholders about child abuse and child protection creates safer environments and addresses the detrimental effects of violence.
Strengthen support networks. Strong social support networks, cooperation among service providers, and building up the capacities of governmental duty-bearers helps others respond appropriately to cases of child abuse and risks of violence in the family and the community.
Providing nurturing environments and quality care. When children can no longer live with their biological families, trauma-informed care facilitates their recovery and resilience. Individualized care in a safe environment allows for children to develop reliable and trusting relationships and mitigate the negative effects of stress.
Supporting care professionals. When children lose the care of their parents, professional caregivers work directly with them to keep them from harm and provide them with quality care. Care professionals require adequate training and support to develop the necessary competencies so they can provide the best possible care to children, foster each child’s individual development and help them overcome trauma.
Child safeguarding. Faithful implementation of the International Child Safeguarding Standards helps to keep more children safe. Child rights violations can occur despite all preventive measures. Clear reporting and responding procedures ensure adequate investigation and response. Internal and external reviews are carried out to ensure compliance with child safeguarding standards.
Calling for action to end violence against children
Child protection must be a core concern for everyone working in the field of child protection, development, humanitarian aid and social services. The Right to Protection: Ending Violence against Children also includes specific calls to action for governments and duty bearers to substantially reduce violence through appropriate prevention and response measures. They include:
support parents as primary caregivers to foster non-violent, positive parenting and reduce vulnerable situations;
individualize decision-making on care placements for each child;
apply a child rights-based approach in daily care work;
implement the International Child Safeguarding Standards;
establish specific laws prohibiting all forms of violence against children in families and in alternative care;
- develop an integrated and systematic approach on national and international levels to scale up efforts to break the cycle of violence.
Download The Right to Protection: Ending Violence Against Children