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Hiroshima Forum Strives to End Violence Against Children
Detail: Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, commissioner and rapporteur on the rights of children at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Organisation of American States and author of a comprehensive U.N. report on violence against children in October 2006, addressed the third forum of the Tokyo-based Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) in Hiroshima. One of the themes of the Hiroshima Forum, is “the ethical imperative to end violence against children.” Speaking on the subject, Pinheiro pointed out that where violence is occurring, early detection mechanisms must be in place and victims must be provided with necessary assistance.

Despite the almost universal ratification of the The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by 193 countries (except United States and Somalia) and thus pledging to protect the world’s mostly beleaguered children, escalating violence against children has continued irrespective of the fact the UNCRC obligates states parties to protect children from all forms of violence. About 218 million children still suffer the worst forms of child labor, while 250,000 to 300,000 have been forcibly pressed into military service as child soldiers. The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF says that nearly half the estimated 3.6 million people killed in military conflicts since 1990 were children.

In his study, Sergio Pinheiro says that violence against children is possibly one of the most invisible and prevalent forms of violence because it remains unregistered and unpunished, being sometimes even condoned by society under the guise of discipline or tradition. The inadequacy of justice and security systems, and the pretexts of privacy or of an incontestable adult authority over children are used to shield perpetrators and keep violence against children insulated by walls of silence, he points out. The study also asserts that violence against children takes a variety of forms and is influenced by a wide range of factors, from the personal characteristics of the victim and perpetrator to their social, cultural, and physical environments.

Sergio Pinheiro also says that economic development, social status, age and gender are among the many factors associated with the risk of violence. Although the consequences of violence may vary according to its nature and severity, the short- and long-term repercussions are very often grave and damaging.

Based on these findings, the study makes 12 overarching recommendations to strengthen the protection of children from violence. These recommendations focus on government responsibility across the very wide range of sectors relevant to the various forms of violence and settings in which violence occurs, and encourage actions with other partners. Many of the recommendations have been heard before, he said, but never before have the various sectors and issues been brought together in a unifying framework for action.

On the positive side, a number of countries have formulated new laws or amended existing laws to prohibit violence against children.
Source: Based on “Despite Landmark Treaty, Children Still Under Siege.” Inter Press Service via Common Dreams, May 27, 2008
Date: June 3 2008