Violence against children and adolescents occurs everywhere – at home, families, schools, communities and public places. It occurs during conflict and even in times of peace. It manifests itself in its most prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence. Violence also occurs in the form of child marriage, denying girls access to formal education, forced labor and trafficking.
Just because you can’t see violence, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We must make the invisible, visible. This was the underlying message as UNICEF launched a global initiative to end violence against children and adolescents in July 2013. The initiative urges collective action to end violence against children, highlighting the fact that violence is everywhere, but often happens out of sight or is tolerated due to social and cultural norms. Under the banner ‘Make the invisible, visible’, the initiative aims to raise awareness as a first step toward modifying attitudes, behaviors and policies.
Violence can be prevented. Formulation and implementation of strong laws, backed by services for protection and strong communication interventions for social and behavior change is vital to guaranteeing respect for the fundamental rights of children and adolescents, most notably their right to security and violence-free life. Protecting children is at the heart of UNICEF’s mandate. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that every child everywhere has the right to be protected from all forms of violence. For more information about this topic, please visit www.unicef.org/endviolence. The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children is also dedicated to ending violence against children. Please visit their website at srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org.