The World Health Organization defines violence against children as including all forms of violence against people under 18 years old, whether perpetrated by parents or other caregivers, peers, partners, or strangers. Violence against children can take several forms such as maltreatment, bullying, sexual violence or even emotional or psychological violence. If any of these forms of violence is directed against girls or boys because of their biological sex or gender identity, it will be considered gender-based violence.
What is the problem with violence towards children?While violence is not unknown to any age or gender group, children are in particular more vulnerable to it compared to adults. Children’s physical features and their inability to properly defend themselves results in them being easy targets for violence. If violence happens in the child’s own home behind closed doors it is often is overlooked by peers, neighbors or teachers. Additionally, when it comes to armed conflicts across the world, children are not spared from being victims to the extreme violence, often suffering more than adults. Globally, it is estimated that up to 1 billion children aged 2–17 years, have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the period 2018-2019. 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.
Why is protection against violence important for children?Due to children still being in their development phase, the trauma and the mental effects of violence can impact a child’s mindset and personal growth well into adulthood. These consequences that originate from violence, especially if they are not isolated incidents, can impacts a child’s social skills, their mentality and ability to learn and therefore put under serious threat their personal development. Additionally, children who are exposed to violence at a young age tend to show aggressive tendencies and are likely to commit violent acts themselves.
What can you do?