Toward a World Free from Violence - Global Survey on Violence against Children
Message by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
for the Global Survey on Violence against Children
New York, 17 October 2013
Freedom from fear and violence, and respect for the dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, lie at the heart of the United Nations agenda. These values are the very foundation of cohesive and prosperous societies.
Our efforts to end violence, whether state-sponsored or embedded in deep-rooted conventions or harmful practices, must start with the protection of our youngest citizens. Every child has the right to freedom from all forms of violence. This is not just common sense and basic morality; it is also an international legal obligation, as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty.
Without the threat of violence, girls and boys are free to develop their talents and skills to their full potential and shape their future. The potential for positive change is enormous, but for now, violence remains a pervasive phenomenon that blights the life of millions of children, haunts entire communities and stifles the prospects for sustainable development and social progress.
As underlined in this Report, violence against girls and boys cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools, in the workplace, in detention centres and in institutions for the care of children. For countless girls and boys the world over, childhood is described by one word: fear.
Violence manifests itself in many forms: neglect, physical and emotional violence, sexual abuse, rape, trafficking, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced and child marriage, acid attacks, killings in the name of honour, forced begging, bonded labour and so many others. Such violence also has serious and long-lasting consequences. It compromises child development and increases the risk of poor health, poor school performance and long-term welfare dependency. It is often associated with poverty and deprivation, and acts as a brake on the potential of individuals and nations.
Yet as this Report makes clear, violence against children is not inevitable. Around the world, commitments are being made at the highest level to protect children from violence. More governments are pledging to honour international treaties, introducing robust legal provisions and rallying support through public campaigns to overcome social norms and attitudes condoning violence against children. Children and young people are actively joining these efforts, including through advocacy and peer education.
This comprehensive and ambitious Survey not only conveys the extent of the challenges ahead, but also provides important examples of initiatives that successfully shield children from violence and address the attitudes that allow it to flourish. It is being issued as Member States deepen their efforts to define a post-2015 development agenda and ensure an appropriate institutional response. The Report’s findings and recommendations point the way towards a future in which children are able to grow up well-nourished, in good health, well-educated, resilient and free from violence. We owe a childhood without fear to each and every one of our children.