Ending Violence against Children Requires Stronger Policies, Partnerships Across Sectors, Borders, Deputy Secretary-General Says at Solutions Summit

DSG/SM/1129
14 February 2018

Ending Violence against Children Requires Stronger Policies, Partnerships Across Sectors, Borders, Deputy Secretary-General Says at Solutions Summit

Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina J. Mohammed's remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the End Violence Solutions Summit, in Stockholm today:

I am privileged to be part of this exciting movement for transformational change — working together to make homes, schools and communities safe from violence, exploitation and abuse.  We must and will end violence against children.  There has never been greater momentum for action.  All countries have committed to honour the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  This ambitious, comprehensive and interrelated Agenda aims at a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, a world which invests in its children and in which every child can grow up free from fear and from violence.

It is worth noting that the views of young people were integral to the development of the 2030 Agenda.  More than 800,000 young people were polled on key issues that they felt needed to be addressed.  The urgency of ending violence against children was among their top priorities.  Preventing violence against children is a matter of fundamental human rights.  It is also an investment in a safer, better future for all humankind.  As we learned from the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, countries that fail to address violence against children will lag behind on a wide range of indicators.  With the inclusion of a distinct target in the 2030 Agenda to end all forms of violence against children, we have a unique opportunity to build safe, just and inclusive societies for all.

Today marks a significant opportunity to build on that commitment.  Sadly, violence is still commonplace in the lives of children everywhere.  Each year, a billion girls and boys experience some form of violence — physical, sexual or psychological.  A recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found close to 300 million children between the ages of 2 and 4 years old experience violent discipline by their caregivers on a regular basis.  Worldwide, more than 1 in 3 students between the ages of 13 and 15 experience bullying.

Violence in childhood reverberates through lives and generations.  It has devastating and long‑lasting impacts on children, families and communities.  So, the global imperative to end violence against children is clear.  The challenge is to translate Goal 16 and all the Sustainable Development Goals into reality, guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recommendations of the United Nations study on violence against children.

A starting point is measuring the problem.  Strengthening the collection, analysis and use of data on the extent and impact violence against children is central to this Summit and has been a central element of United Nations advocacy.  In addition to regular data collection systems, 14 countries have completed national household surveys to assess the prevalence of violence against children, and 10 are in progress.  We hope to see many more in the near future.

Based, in part, on these surveys, and on global advocacy, we have seen significant progress over the past decade in policies and laws for the protection of children.  A growing number of countries are leading accelerating action to protect all children.  We salute this leadership, and are learning from the solutions that have been developed.

First, we have learned that ending violence means stronger systems, institutions, and legal and policy frameworks.  This is clearly articulated in the Model National Response plan advocated by the WePROTECT Global Alliance.  Ending violence means safe and confidential mechanisms for children to report violence in person — including online bullying and predation.  It means sensitive law enforcement and justice systems to safeguard the rights of child victims and prevent abuse and exploitation from happening in the first place.  And it means physical and psychological support from the health and social service systems.

Second, we have learned that ending violence depends on collaboration among many partners, across sectors and across borders.  Violence against children is everyone’s business.  Law enforcement, health, justice, social welfare and the private sector all need to work together to prevent and respond to violence.  The strategies outlined in INSPIRE, which will be presented at this Summit, make the case for aligning efforts and employing proven strategies to address violence, exploitation and abuse.

The solutions can be delivered at scale — but only if we harness energies, skills and resources across all of society.  This means that all of us — Governments, communities, civil society, the United Nations and the private sector — must hold ourselves accountable for children’s rights and work together to build political will, increase investment and accelerate action.

Third, ending violence against children goes hand in hand with strengthening efforts to end violence against women and girls.  Gender inequality and violence against women in the household are closely linked with violence against children and adolescents.  Victims of violence — boys, girls, women and men — often share common risk factors.  Evidence shows that prevention and response, promoted together, are particularly effective.

We have seen growing attention to linking strategies to address violence against women with violence against children to maximize support to both vulnerable groups.  For example, in the United Republic of Tanzania, a joint National Plan of Action to address violence against women and children has been drawn up — taking into account the specific challenges facing each vulnerable group and committing resources with targeted planned outcomes.

Another example is the European Union and the United Nations joint effort called Spotlight, which is a new, global, multi‑year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.  It recognizes that eliminating violence must be at the centre of global efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda.

This Solutions Summit is an opportunity for all of us — Governments, civil society groups, international organizations, the private sector, faith‑based organizations and communities — to come together to break the cycle of violence in which so many children and adults are trapped.  As inspiring agents of change, children’s voices and experiences need to be at the heart of these efforts.  We have an important opportunity here to learn from each other, to share experiences and to scale up effective solutions.

This Summit gains special relevance as we look forward to the first General Assembly review of the 2030 Agenda, in 2019.  Within this process, let us give Sustainable Development Goal Target 16.2 — “Ending all forms of violence against children” — the urgency, the investment and the action it deserves.  Your leadership and commitment can help to shape a world in which every child can grow up free from violence — and enjoy the right to a safe, peaceful childhood.

For information media. Not an official record.