Yahoo New Zealand: Conference aims to end violence against children in Pacific

Conference aims to end violence against children in Pacific

A three-day conference on ending violence against children in the Pacific starts today in Nadi, Fiji.

Hosted by UNICEF Pacific, the conference will bring together representatives from 15 Pacific Island Countries, including senior government officials, practitioners and child protection experts, as well as the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais.

"The conference aims to bring greater attention to the widespread problem of violence within the Pacific region," said UNICEF New Zealand's International Advocacy Manager, Sarah Morris.

"Pacific-focused data shows us that high percentages of children have experienced physical and/or psychological aggression in the home - Fiji 72%, Kiribati 81%, Solomon Islands 72% and Vanuatu 78%.

"This combined with high rates of violence against women and widespread acceptance of violence as a suitable punishment for children, results in a challenging cycle to break.

"Where baseline data exists (Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), more than 70% of adults admit to using violent punishment on children at home."

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which all Pacific nations are signatories to, children should have protection from all forms of violence.

Article 19 of the Convention states, 'Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else looking after them.'

Ms Morris added, "We know that a childhood free from violence, exploitation and abuse lays the foundations for a healthy, violence-free future, ending the intergenerational cycle of abuse. But we also know that in practice, this will be an enormous undertaking that will need champions in all walks of life to ensure it becomes a reality.

"UNICEF is committed to supporting government, civil society, communities and families to do their part to end violence against children, not only here in the Pacific but throughout the world."

Author: UNICEF New Zealand