Fifth Forum

We Can End Violence Against Children

{9th – 11th May 2017} Panama City, Panama, 2017

GNRC 5th Forum

INTRODUCTION: THE GNRC 5th FORUM

Every five years, Arigatou International holds a Forum of its Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) initiative. The 5th Forum will take place on 9, 10 and 11 May 2017 in Panama City, Panama. Four-hundred religious leaders, members of diverse faith communities, leaders of faith-based organizations, United Nations officials, and representatives of international and grassroots organizations from around the world are expected to attend the Forum. A pre-Forum bringing together 60 children will take place on 6, 7, and 8 May. The theme for the 5th Forum is: “Ending Violence Against Children: Faith Communities in Action.”

The GNRC 5th Forum will build on the work that GNRC members from diverse faith traditions have been doing since the year 2000, working for and with children, to build a better world for children. Working locally, nationally, and globally, GNRC members have addressed several of the key challenges facing children, prioritizing areas such as child rights, education, poverty, and violence. The 5th Forum will focus specifically on solutions for the challenges presented by various forms of violence against children, broken down into three sub-themes. These are: “Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime”; “Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing”; and “Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children.” The role of faith communities in addressing these challenges—especially through interreligious cooperation—will be the main focus of the Forum.

In bringing faith communities together to address violence against children, the Forum also aims to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG16.2 focusing on ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

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OBJECTIVES OF THE GNRC 5th FORUM

The Forum is intended to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Learning and Sharing: To highlight the scale and impact of violence against children, and facilitate exchanges among participating individuals and organizations of information, experiences, lessons learned and good practices that are effective in ending violence against children;
  2. Shared Commitment and Call to Action: To formulate concrete strategies and plans of action for the GNRC, its members, and supporters, which build on the existing efforts of Arigatou International’s other global initiatives and diverse partners and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals; and issue a Shared Commitment and Call to Action to end violence against children; and
  3. Building Partnerships to End Violence against Children: To strengthen collaboration across the GNRC network by increasing the efficiency of and synergies among the work of its members, partners and supporters; and to strengthen existing and build new partnerships with key stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels aimed at ending violence against children.
Volunteer Training 5th Forum

THE GLOBAL CONTEXT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN

Violence against children is one of the gravest challenges facing the world today, but it does not receive attention commensurate with its gravity. The evidence is overwhelming. Violence is the leading cause of death and injury of children in the world. Every five minutes, a child is killed by violence. One billion of the 2.2 billion children from all walks of life around the world endure different forms of physical and sexual violence, irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, race, religion or income levels. In 2012 alone, 95,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 were killed in homicide cases globally.

About 20% of women and 5 - 10% of men suffered sexual abuse as children; 3 out of every 4 children experience violent discipline at home; 85 million children (55 million boys and 30 million girls) are involved in hazardous work; over 1 billion children live in countries or territories affected by armed conflict; and almost half of all forcibly displaced persons (24 million in total) globally, are children. Only 52 out of 197 countries have prohibited physical punishment of children in institutional care; and 14% of girls and 7% of boys under 18 years old have experienced sexual violence in institutional care. Against the backdrop of these grim statistics about violence against children, the GNRC 5th Forum aims to consolidate and enhance the GNRC’s previous efforts to address violence against children. Envisioning the potential of faith communities to turn around this crisis, the theme for the GNRC 5th Forum is “Ending Violence Against Children: Faith Communities in Action.”

5Fs

SOLUTION-FOCUSED: THEMATIC AREAS OF THE FORUM

The GNRC 5th Forum will be solution-focused, with participants expected to discuss, recommend for action and make commitments to work together to build a world free of violence against children. GNRC members and faith communities around the world have been taking steps to address this challenge at various levels. The GNRC 5th Forum seeks to inspire, reinvigorate, and encourage GNRC members and diverse faith communities to take even more action together, as well as to develop concrete partnerships with other stakeholders, to address violence against children. When crafting these action plans to eliminate violence against children, participants will take advantage of the effective tools offered by Arigatou International’s other global initiatives: Ethics Education for Children, Prayer and Action for Children, and End Child Poverty. It is expected that the Forum will give rise to creative new ways to bring these approaches and resources together in targeted ways to prevent, reduce, and stop recurrence of violence against children.

The GNRC 5th Forum will include plenary sessions, panel discussions, expert presentations and reflections on the three key thematic areas. Under “Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime: The Role of Faith Communities,” participants will discuss and frame the role of religious leaders and faith communities in preventing the recruitment of children into radicalized groups of violent extremists, gang violence and organized crime. The GNRC 5th Forum aims to share what is already being done in these areas, and to apply Arigatou International’s Ethics Education, Prayer and Action for Children, and End Child Poverty initiatives to create new solutions and actions that can be deployed by religious leaders and faith communities around the world to prevent, reduce and end the manipulation and use of children for violent extremism, gang violence and organized crime.

Under “Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing: The Role of Faith Communities,” participants will discuss and recommend ways in which a child’s spirituality can be nurtured and promoted, in particular through positive parenting but also by the wider community, to protect them from violence and help them to develop to their full potential. The GNRC 5th Forum will reflect upon and explore the role of faith communities and their leaders in fostering spirituality in children, as well as in their caregivers, as a way of mitigating violence against children. Participants will review opportunities to take advantage of the Ethics Education, Prayer and Action for Children, and End Child Poverty initiatives for this purpose.

Under “Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children: The Role of Faith Communities,” participants will focus on and discuss possible partnerships among faith-based organizations and communities and international organizations which address these challenges, as well as consider partnerships among or facilitated by Arigatou International’s Ethics Education, Prayer and Action for Children, and End Child Poverty initiatives. Participants will explore the ethical and moral imperative that faith communities not only acknowledge the existence and grave consequences of this vice, but also confront and challenge it within their communities and in the wider society.

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EXPECTED OUTCOMES

The Forum is expected to have the following main outcomes:

  1. Learning and Sharing: Increased understanding and appreciation of the scale and impact of violence against children as well as enhanced understanding and shared learning about effective methods for preventing, reducing and ending violence against children;

  2. Shared Commitment and Call to Action: Commitment to addressing violence against children and adoption of concrete plans of action by faith communities, partners and other stakeholders to prevent and reduce violence against children at the local, national, regional and global levels; a concrete new approach for GNRC members and partners to make the most of the potential synergies among Arigatou International’s Ethics Education, Prayer and Action for Children, and End Child Poverty initiatives to address the specific challenges of ending violence against children; the issuing of a Shared Commitment and Call to Action; and

  3. Building Partnerships to End Violence against Children: Effective broad-based interreligious partnerships, as well as partnerships between religious and secular stakeholders aimed at ending violence against children by implementing the commitments and actions discussed at the GNRC 5th Forum.

Rev Keishi Miyamoto

CONCLUSION

Transformed faith communities and their religious leaders can be a very powerful resource for mitigating, preventing, reducing and ultimately ending violence against children. There is much more that the GNRC, its friends and supporters can do to fully engage the world’s faith communities in efforts to end violence against children utilizing both their tangible and intangible resources. The GNRC 5th Forum will be urging faith communities and their leaders to work together, making the most of their social capital and moral authority while inviting diverse other actors to cooperate with them in addressing violence against children.

The Forum envisions an end to all forms of violence against children, and seeks to generate a major new global impetus to accomplish this vision. In partnership with governments, inter-governmental, multilateral, faith-based and non-governmental institutions, Arigatou International and the GNRC members believe that it is certainly possible to build a world where all children everywhere can live in peace, in a world free of violence.

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