VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN: Report shows shocking levels of violence worldwide

Summary: Report by the International NGO Advisory Council for follow up to the UN Study on Violence against Children which was based on over 100 submissions by NGOs, UN agencies and academic research.

Le rapport en français


[NEW YORK, 12 October 2011] – Governments should strengthen laws and strategies to end violence against children, a coalition of children's rights organisations said in a new report released today.


The report, Five Years On: a global update on violence against children, reveals how despite numerous commitments and promises by States, millions of children continue to be humiliated, beaten, burned, sexually abused – and even killed – by the adults in their lives, their parents, teachers, caregivers and employers.


The report comes five years after a United Nations (UN) study documented the magnitude of violence perpetrated against children. It surveyed over 100 separate studies conducted by academic researchers, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies since 2006.


“Children around the globe are victim to staggering levels of violence and progress has been pitifully slow," said Jo Becker, Co-Chair of the NGO Advisory Council for follow up to the UN Study on Violence Against Children. "Violence against children is as urgent a crisis today as it was five years ago when the Secretary-General’s study was completed,” she continued.

Recent findings include:

  • Across 37 countries, an average of 86 percent of children ages 2-14 experience physical or psychological violence in their home each month;
  • 78 countries still authorize corporal punishment by teachers; in some countries up to 97 percent of students have been beaten in school;
  • Children with disabilities are four to five times more likely to experience violence and sexual abuse than non-disabled children.
  • In some countries, like the U.S. and the UK, children are two to three times more likely to be the victims of serious crimes than are adults.
  • The known number of juvenile offenders executed worldwide rose by more than 50 percent in the last five years.

Some progress, however, was noted: the number of countries that prohibited all corporal punishment against children has nearly doubled since 2006; from 16 to 30. Among them are Kenya, Poland and Tunisia (2010) and the new state of South Sudan (2011). In some regions, states have adopted regional strategies to address violence against children


“The number of states banning corporal punishment is growing, but they are still too few,” said Becker. “Governments should ensure there is no legal defence for those who assault children.”


NGOs call on governments to immediately implement the recommendations from the 2006 UN Study. In particular, they urge governments to prohibit all violence against children through legal reform, and develop national strategies to address violence against children with sufficient resources for implementation.

Marta Santos Pais, mandated by the UN Secretary-General to tackle violence against children, stated the report, "highlights how far we are from safeguarding the right of all children to develop to their full potential in a violence-free environment, as violence remains widespread, socially condoned, and in many cases considered as a lawful practice, form of discipline, or sentencing of children.”




End Notes


The International NGO Advisory Council for follow-up to the UN Secretary-General's Study on Violence Against Children (AdCo) was formed in 2007 to support strong and effective follow-up to the Study. Its central role today is to work closely with the SRSG to ensure civil society participation in the follow up activities. The Advisory Council includes representatives from nine international NGOs: Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children, World Vision International, Plan International, Defence for Children International, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) and the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN). Another nine members represent regional organisations.


The United Nations Study on Violence against Children found that violence against children is present in almost all aspects of a child’s life: in their home, in school, on the street, at work, in institutions, and in detention. Children are beaten tortured, sexually assaulted, or even murdered by the very individuals responsible for their care, and many forms of violence are often viewed as socially acceptable.

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.