Children....Our future. They have a right to dream of what they’d like to become. Yet…violence against them kills their dreams. Today....more than 1 billion children in the world are forced to face violence. World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) has worked over 44 years to promote the care and safeguard of underprivileged children. Due to WVFT’s efforts, more than 40 million children have been protected.
Violence against children may come in various forms, including physical and emotional aggression, sexual abuse, neglect and forced or seduced exploitation. All off these root from a wide range of family problems, from poverty, underprivileged background, lack of basic life necessities, including food, clothing, shelter, as well as lack of affection within family, dysfunctional families with drug abuse and mental problems of caregivers. All of these factors may lead to violence against children. The situation seems to get worsen each year due to changing economic and social contexts.
Child protection must not be left solely to the duty bearers, but it takes You and Me to end violence against children. As such, World Vision International has launched End Violence Against Children (EVAC) campaign, which is accordingly responded by World Vision Foundation of Thailand. The 5-year international-level campaign has been implemented by WVFT continuously (from 2017-2021) with the ultimate goal to enable children to live their lives free of violence and fear, as well as to raise awareness among Thai people to have understanding and work together to end physical and mental violence against children, which may take place either at home or elsewhere.
Violence against children is any act on children which causes harm, injury, abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment, and/or exploitation whether accepted as “tradition” or disguised as “discipline”, including hindering child development
All forms of violence against children may cause visible harm to a child’s brain
Violence against children can happen in front of our very own eyes without us recognizing it.
In Asia-Pacific region, every one in three girls and one in four boys were reported to experience emotional violence
Thailand’s One Stop Crisis Center (OSCC) with its 1300 Hotline, in 2015, recorded 23,977 cases in total; 45% of which or 10,712 cases dealt with any form of violence against children. 2,470 cases referred to physical abuse
In Thailand, 62% or three out of five children aged 1-14 years experienced emotional aggression, while 56% or more than the half population of children aged 1-14 years were ever subjected to physical punishment. Every four out of 100 children aged 1-14 years in Thailand had suffered from the worst form of disciplining by their families
Physical discipline ranges from the milder forms of disciplining, such as spanking, hitting or slapping with a bare hand, hitting or slapping on the hand or arm or leg, shaking and hitting with an object, to the most severe forms, such as hitting the child on the head or ears or face, and hitting the child hard repeatedly.
The age group with the highest prevalence of receiving any violent discipline method was 3-4 years old group
Lack of knowledge and awareness in positive disciplining and parenting skills are mostly to be found among the parents with insufficient education background
In Thailand, physical discipline remains common practice not only in the home, but also in schools and in alternative settings, including correctional institutions. Among 75 countries, Thailand is ranked 7th as the country in which the caregivers believe that the physical punishment is necessary to discipline children
It is estimated that violence against children in all forms costs US$7 trillion per year globally. For the East Asia and Pacific region alone, child maltreatment costs a total of US$ 209 billion (equals to THB 7 trillion) or 2% of the region’s GDP
The consequences of violence during childhood last a lifetime and affect a child’s ability to prosper.
Investing in violence prevention on children can significantly reduce the risks of children in the involvement in illicit drug use and criminal activity, incarceration, early smoking initiation, problem drinking, early sex, teenage pregnancy, self-harm, stomach pain and mental disorder, as well as the risk of short and long-term academic failure, school dropout, dependency on welfare programs, and homelessness
Certain risk factors increase children’s vulnerability to violence. Risk factors include children with chronic illness or disability and children living in poverty and/or broken families.
The combination of multiple vulnerability factors increases the risk of violence against the child.
Precise data on vulnerable children is sparse.
Statistics on violence against children - including its prevalence, cause and impacts - are still very limited in number and quality.
In Asia Pacific, there is a lack of information on violence against children, including a lack of national surveys and an underreporting of actual instances of violence against children.
Child Protection Act, National Education Act and National Health Act protect the basic rights of children, but many noncompliant cases are still to be found, e.g. child labour, children drop-out from school, children without adequate health-care.
Only sensationalized or extreme forms of violence against children get the public attention. Many cases remain largely hidden or overlooked due to social acceptance, shame, fear of reprisal and the silence of children victims themselves.
Ending violence against children requires working with multiple aspects, interventions and actors at the same time.
Most child protection services across Asia are reactive and issue-focused. Strengthening child protection requires a systems approach.
Strengthening child protection systems to end violence against children requires targeted funding from national governments.
Strengthening child protection systems can also be achieved through strong and empowered ‘informal structures’ such as families, caregivers and communities.
Harmful social norms and values perpetuate violence against children.
Utilizing the influence of community and faith leaders and the reach of the media, it is possible to change hearts and minds.
Empowering children and encouraging their participation has a powerful impact on harmful norms and values.
There is an economic imperative to act now.
To end violence in any form against children, policymakers must engage a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses in the private sector.
Businesses must eliminate all practices in their own operations and services that promote any form of violence against children and may also offer unique solutions and services to end violence.
All stakeholders, including you and me, are committed to ending the violence against children in any form within the respective scope of influence as a starting point.