How We Can End Violence Against Children
This module explains the extent of violence inflicted on children, the various studies undertaken and the recommendations to prevent the subject. The reality is that violence against children happens in all the countries across the world. Violence towards children are in various denominations. In the United Nations Study on Violence against Children, violence against children includes physical violence, psychological violence such as insults and humiliation, discrimination, neglect and maltreatment. The study further elaborates that although the consequences may vary according to the nature and severity of the violence inflicted, the short- and long-term repercussions for children are very often grave and damaging.
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 2014 alone, 95,000 children between the ages of 15-19 died as a result of violence.
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.
The oppressions which these children endure may damage their own psychological, health or even physical progress. Although some of the victims have tried to speak out about their nightmares, most of them still lag in the darkness fearing exposure and humiliation. But just as we all fancy a better life in the future, children subjected to violence also dream of being unchained from the shackles of torment. Cases of victimisation of children through violence have been registered across the world and the perpetrators of these monstrous acts go scot-free.
In the Alone and Frightened report conducted by Arigatou International GNRC and Goldin Institute (GI), on Experiential Stories of Former Child Soldiers (FCS), it is noted that the human race is losing close to 20,000 children daily on brutal wars. Children are conscripted against their will to kill, maim and plunder. In this report we learn that war is also one of the brutal ways of inflicting violence onto children.
Often, children taken to captivity are forced by their abductors to turn the gun on their relatives, even parents, so that they have no one to go back to— effectively transforming murderous gangs to be their families. This module intends to use the Alone and Frightened report as a study along with other scholarly work to justify the magnitude of ending violence against children.
Some of the findings in the reserach by GNRC and GI in Northern Uganda on Improving Reintegration are:
- Major health issues identified among FCS include bullet wounds and fragments in the body, septic wounds, fistula, HIV/ AIDS and cardiac problems. The physical scars or bullets lodged in their bodies has rendered some of them unable to find spouses or fend for themselves. In fact some claim to have been divorced because of the health challenges.
- Of the 87 females interviewed, 39 returned as child mothers; also an indication of defilement, sexual harassment and sexual slavery compounded currently by lack of community acceptance and difficulties in providing for the child/children. More painful is the lack of identity on the part of the child/children.
- While 60% of the abducted children found themselves in the hands of Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and later reception centers, many (40%) did not receive initial counseling and support having bypassed the reception centers on their way home. Considering the kind of experiences they went through such as constant death threats, spiritual initiation rituals ranging from sitting on dead bodies to having sex with an older person and the duration in captivity of between 1-6 years, one can understand the trauma levels and poor livelihoods among FCS currently. The duration in captivity seemed to impact on the psychological and physical state of the victims.
- Large portions of the FCSs expressed concern that they continue to experience psychological suffering and/or trauma as a result of their experiences in captivity. This includes nightmares, anxiety and fits of anger in addition to alienation, appropriation, dispossession, guilt, loneliness and poor relation with others (aggression, shouting, commanding, etc.).
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