The world has failed to protect around one billion children from physical, sexual or psychological violence, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned.
Newsmen report that WHO gave the warning in a statement reflecting on the “the Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020” jointly published by some UN agencies.
The agencies are WHO, Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and the UN Special Representative for ending Violence against Children – with the End of Violence Partnership.
The statement quoted Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General as saying, “There is never any excuse for violence against children. We have evidence-based tools to prevent it, which we urge all countries to implement. Protecting the health and well-being of children is central to protecting our collective health and well-being, now and for the future.”
The report is the first of its kind, charting progress in 155 countries against the “INSPIRE” framework, a set of seven strategies for preventing and responding to violence against children.
The report signals a clear need in all countries to scale up efforts to implement them.
While nearly all countries (88 per cent) have key laws in place to protect children against violence, less than half of countries (47 per cent) said these were being strongly enforced.
The report includes the first ever global homicide estimates specifically for children under 18 years of age – previous estimates were based on data that included 18 to 19-year olds.
It finds that, in 2017, around 40,000 children were victims of homicide.
The statement quoted UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore as saying “violence against children has always been pervasive, and now things can be getting much worse.
“Lockdowns, school closures and movement restrictions have left far too many children stuck with their abusers, without the safe space that school will normally offer.
“It is urgent to scale up efforts to protect children during these times and beyond, including designating social service workers as essential and strengthening child helplines.”
Of the INSPIRE strategies, only access to schools through enrollment showed the most progress with 54 per cent of countries reporting that a sufficient number of children in need were being reached in this way.
“Between 32 per cent to 37 per cent of countries considered that victims of violence could access support services, while 26 per cent of countries provided programmes on parent and caregiver support.
“21 per cent of countries had programmes to change harmful norms; and 15 per cent of countries had modifications to provide safe physical environments for children.
“Although a majority of countries (83 per cent) have national data on violence against children, only 21 per cent used these to set baselines and national targets to prevent and respond to violence against children.
“About 80 per cent of countries have national plans of action and policies but only one-fifth have plans that are fully funded or have measurable targets.
“A lack of funding combined with inadequate professional capacity are likely contributing factors and a reason why implementation has been slow,” the report stated.