Children's Statement at the North American Regional Consultation

Summary: Statement made by children participating at
the North American Regional Consultation for
the UN Study on Violence against children,
Toronto, 3 June 2005.

During the North American Regional Consultation for the
United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children

June 3, 2005

Good afternoon Honourable Senator Landon Pearson, Youth Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen. In our ever-changing world today we are faced
with many obstacles and challenges. A prominent issue is violence against
children and youth.

From Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia, New York to Mississippi, we gather
from across North America to discuss our views, the youth perspective on
violence against children. Through the North American Regional
Consultation for the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against
Children, we discussed several areas of violence against children, and here
are our resolutions:

Operating in a Federal System

Our theme was operating in a federal system, a conflict of jurisdictions.
Seeing as though this is a broad topic, we went with questions instead of
key messages. We learned about the current system in Canada and the
United States and relationships between provincial/state governments and
federal policy making.

The key messages that came out of our discussion are:
 To engage youth in policy making
 Working with cooperation and coordination between jurisdictions
 How to take knowledge and implement it in a productive way

During our discussion Senator Pearson said, “no talking about us, without
us!” We think that this is especially important when it comes to making
decisions that affect today’s youth.

Models for Offices of the Children’s Advocate, Children’s Commissioner or
Children’s Ombudsperson.

In order for the mental, moral, emotional, spiritual and physical rights of
children to be respected and upheld, there must be a permanent system to
ensure children’s protection. Within this system, children’s opinions and
feelings must always be considered just as important as those of adults.
The top priority of this system must be for the best interest of the child.

Violence in the Home

We, the youth, agree that violence in the home is a growing problem. In
our group, we talked about violence in homes and the most common
reasons for violence. We think that a major cause of family and home
violence is lack of trust and communications by adults and children. Our
recommendation is:
To provide programs for families to build relationships based on trust and

Peer Aggression (Bullying)

Bullying is a relationship problem. We need to teach children how to relate
to other people – this begins at home. Parents need to be good role
models to ensure their child can develop positive relationships rather than
some sort of power relationship.

A lot of bullying is school based but we tend to overlook other areas where
this may occur, such as in families or neighbourhoods.

We need to educate children to embrace other cultures, styles, and
interests – to not feel intimidated or to pick these individuals to be victims.

Youth engagement and interventions are key because children can relate
to other youth. Other youth give them a sense of normality and
acceptance, making it easier to help the child. In the school system, the
bully is usually overlooked. We need to pay attention to these kids. We
need to provide the resources to help them. A lot of research needs to be
done especially when it comes to bystanders. Bystanders need to believe
in themselves and need to believe that they can help, and that bullying is

Epidemiology and Surveillance of Violence Against Children

So, putting this into youth friendly terms, it means getting information. How
we get information and what we do with the information were key points
throughout the discussion. Many studies have been conducted on violence
against children and the best way to get this information is always a hot

Some of the key points and recommendations that emerged were:
 Closing the gap between research and recommendations
 Effectiveness of current dissemination and making it youth-friendly
 Youth engagement in the research process

Child Welfare Legislation, Policy and Practice

We, the youth of today, feel that child welfare legislation, policies and
practice are not accessible and hidden within cities. Children should have
the right to voice their opinion on how they feel the services should be run,
considering the services are supposed to be for the children.

We believe that if there were more awareness and funding, the services in
place would be put to better use and would help prevent violence against

Violence Against Children in Juvenile Justice Settings

When taking a closer look at children in juvenile justice settings, the
resounding question “what happens to youth once they are in custody?”
becomes a very prominent issue. A general observation made by youth at
this meeting is that more and more youth in juvenile justice settings are
being abused by authorities as well as experiencing peer-on-peer violence.
In order to combat this physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse, we
 Providing daily counselling sessions for youth in custody
 Upgrading rehabilitation programs to improve the quality of life for
convicted youth
 Immediate response to a complaint made by youth – possible transfer or
training staff how to deal with the youth appropriately
 An alternative to jail time (community service, outreach projects,
restorative justice)
 Eliminating life without parole for youth

We feel our juvenile justice systems have the responsibility to rehabilitate
youth and integrate them back into society rather than subject them to
more violence.

Violence Against Children with Disabilities

There are thousands of people with disabilities in North America. Many of
these people are youth. They need special attention, and the last thing
they need is to be hurt physically and emotionally.

We need to create more to buildings for them. By doing this we will
encourage them to explore places they could not access before. This is
where we would need the cost of electric wheelchairs to be lower as well
as the price of medicines. On top of that it would also be nice to have more
disabled-friendly vehicles.

Violence Against Aboriginal and Native American Children

Aboriginal children and Native American children are a disenfranchised
group in society. They are not treated or seen in the same respect as
anyone else. They are carted around from one reserve to the other,
governments neglect their situations and they were assimilated. There are
problems with substance abuse, which cause parents, relatives and friends
to physically, mentally and emotionally abuse the children.

There are many solutions that the youth have come up with; there should
be counselling for substance abuse, also the governments should give
more funds to education on reserves and provide basic human needs, such
as housing and education.

Violence Against Children in the Media

Violence in the media is an urgent social health issue. This subject requires
a lot of research, youth on youth engagement, media awareness
education at an early age and media awareness education for parents.

Video games, movies, music videos, music, magazines and cyber bullying
are all becoming more violent due to the demand of society in North
America. Children have become desensitized. They are unable to
differentiate between what is fantasy and what is reality. Parents
sometimes don’t realize how much they can do to stop negative media
influence on their child’s mind. A lot of parents don’t know how to,
therefore parents need to be educated on what programs are available to
block certain sites, they need to know how to use the Internet, they need
to be involved. Parents need to influence their children positively before
television or games can teach it to them.

Violence Against Children in Sport

We believe that violence within sport is becoming a very common issue
that is not always recognized. A key problem is that the coaches feel that
they have power over the children and may abuse this power in the form
of physical, emotional or even sexual abuse.
Often violence in certain sports, such as hockey, is glorified and seen
as “no big deal”.

We think that a solution and preventative measure would be to increase
supervision among youth teams, to ensure that players are safe and not
being taken advantage of. Also, rules and regulations for coaches must be
increased and enforced by authorities, rather than just by schools. Finally,
children should be encouraged by everyone involved to play fairly rather
than roughly.

The Role of Primary Prevention

The majority of anti-violence funding in both Canada and the U.S. goes
towards dealing with the effects and repercussions of violence, rather than
preventing violence in the first place.

We believe, if children are taught when they are young about the reality of
violence and the alternatives, then much of the violence caused by youth
could be prevented. We feel that primary prevention begins in the home –
with proper communication between parents and children - and with
proper implementation on a personal, direct and engaging level in schools.
With proper education and preparation, children will be less likely to react
violently to situations as they grow.

Violence Against Ethno-cultural Minorities, Refugee and Asylum-Seeking

Plato once said, “Let us suppose the world to be the very image of that
whole of which all other animals both individually and in their tribes are

Given that scenario, we in North America should reach a caring hand to
cries of help from children around the world. There should be more
government funding to provide for the basic necessities and ensure living
standards are met for refugees. We need to ensure that these children are
not being abused by people in power by putting stricter rules in place
about their treatment and handling.

There are uncountable numbers of children suffering trauma and violence
everyday – in their homes, schools and families.

Someone once said, “A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot
answer.” Indeed, children and youth are the curious wonderers of today
and the voices of tomorrow - no, of today!

We hope that through this meeting we provided the UN and all participants
with constructive ideas and suggestions to diminish violence against
children in North America. Perhaps it is very soon that children everywhere
will live in a more compassionate, peaceful and harmonious world.

Thank you.
Owner: Under 18 delegates


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