“Worldwide, it is estimated nearly half of children aged two–seventeen face some form of violence each year” – UNICEF.
Violence against children is an urgent public health concern and human rights issue. It affects children of all different backgrounds in countries around the world. It also negatively impacts families, communities, and entire nations for generations.
Those most at risk are children with disabilities or HIV, those living in extreme poverty or institutional care, and children separated from their caregivers or displaced, such as migrants and refugees. Children belonging to marginalized or ethnic minority groups also increase the risk of violence.
Forms of Violence Against Children
There are four main types of violence against children: physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect.
- Physical: Any form of physical assault such as bullying (including cyber-bullying), usually in schools. It can include youth violence with strangers and acquaintances, and violence at home by caregivers or family members.
- Emotional: Psychological or emotional abuse includes any hostile treatment such as ridicule, humiliation, threats, verbal abuse, and restriction of a child’s movement.
- Sexual: Includes non-consensual sex and sexual harassment, any sexual acts or exploitation of children who are unable to refuse, such as sex trafficking or online.
- Neglect: Mistreatment of infants and children by their caregivers in home environments and institutions such as orphanages.
Violence against children also covers harmful practices such as child marriage and genital cutting, or commercial exploitation such as child labor and sex trafficking. Unfortunately, trafficking in children remains a “high profit-low risk crime”, particularly in border regions where it is easier to smuggle children without alerting authorities. Children account for almost one-third of trafficking victims. Of these statistics, a high percentage are girls forced into a life of sex work or slave labor. Moreover, in the present day, children and youth also face violence from the internet, such as cyberbullying and online sexual exploitation. Parents, guardians, and caretakers should be aware of internet dangers to keep your children safe.
Regardless of the form of violence, each child experiences and copes differently. The effects of this can last a lifetime. Short-term physical damages include injury, sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancies. It can also cause anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Long-term damages include mental illness, substance abuse, and criminal behavior. Experiencing violence as a child can also lead to negative educational outcomes. This affects their financial position in life and that of their family.
The most devastating form of violence against children is the kind that happens behind closed doors–the sort of violence that can be wielded almost without consequence. This is because vulnerable children are often left without the knowledge, support, or opportunities to seek help. Moreover, the perpetrators are usually someone the children trust.
Despite the hard work to bring violence against children to light, the vast majority of survivors will never seek help. In addition, children who experience violence sometimes end up reenacting the violence as adults.
The cycle of abuse must be broken.
Fighting Violence Against Children
All forms of violence committed against children are preventable. There is a concentrated effort worldwide to end child abuse. Goal 16.2 of the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development is to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”. At the government level, there are calls to refocus on strengthening national and cross-border systems to combat trafficking. While Global organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, and World Vision works to combat child abuse and help children thrive.
Here at Center For Girls Foundation (CFG), we are working closely with communities in the border regions of Chiang Rai to educate and protect children from violence. Through our work, we engage schools, local governments, and communities on human trafficking and child abuse. CFG also provides workshops and teaches leadership skills.
The Role of Children
Children have a voice that must be heard. Incorporating them and considering their viewpoint when making decisions that affect them is key, as they are the ones who have lived through this violence and therefore are the best ones to consult.
How to Help
The worst kind of violence occurs behind closed doors. If you are worried or suspect a child is in danger please notify your local authorities. In Thailand, contact the 1300 Social Assistance Center.
Our most powerful tool against child abuse is to bring it into the light. We can do this by talking about it and reporting incidents.
– Kristen Rive-Thomson
‘Want to stay up-to-date? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Interested in volunteering with CFG? Let us know
Not able to come to join us in Thailand yet? Consider donating
Not able to donate today? Look for opportunities in your community to work against gender-based violence and human trafficking, as these are universal issues.