GNRC Third Forum - Thematic Report
GNRC Third Forum
24-26 May, 2008, Hiroshima
Recommendations from Thematic Group Session on
"The Ethical Imperative to End Violence Against Children"
*Promoting ethics education to stop violence against children
*Mobilizing religious and spiritual communities to prevent violence against children
*Engaging decision-makers and civil society to build a culture of non-violence
Recommendations on main theme: "The Ethical Imperative to End Violence Against Children"
1. Recognize that violence against children takes many different forms in many different settings and regions, including:
- Violence in schools (including corporal punishment, bullying among children)
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse and exploitation
- Issues related to reproductive health including female genital mutilation
- Violence related to youth gangs
- Abuse of children in war zones, children used as solders
- Female feticide and infanticide
- Violence due to religious beliefs
- Drug abuse among youth
2. Efforts to address violence against children must take into account diverse structural factors that perpetuate violence, including structural violence in the Galtunian sense, poverty and other economic factors, political factors such as inadequate policy, apathy of responsible authorities and state institutions. (Note, however, that factors like poverty should never be used to justify violent practices in schools or homes.) To address these structural factors leading to violence against children, the world's major powers must be strongly urged to adopt and practice fair policies in their dealings with other parts of the world. In addition, governments must be held responsible for violence against children in schools.
3. Recognize that violence against children is often deeply rooted in cultural practices and beliefs. For instance, physical punishment is often seen both by parents and teachers as a natural requirement for disciplining children. Sometimes children are even abused with religious justification. In many cultures, the child is seen as an object but not as a subject of rights. We must ensure children's participation in solving problems related to violence. Governments and communities must be held jointly accountable for addressing the cultural roots of violence against children.
4. Violence against children is closely related to power and division in society. "Social fault lines" (caste, class, gender, etc.) are behind all kinds of injustice, including violence. On the other hand, differences among humans are natural and do not in and of themselves lead to structural violence. Rather, natural differences (gender, generational, cultural, etc.) are utilized by those in power to create hierarchical categories and perpetuate injustice. Children are usually at the bottom of the power structure, therefore most susceptible to violence. "Tolerance" of cultural and religious differences is not enough. Division and unequal power must be actively confronted and a culture that celebrates differences be promoted.
5. The emergence of ethno-religious exclusivist ideologies in the conflict regions of the world should be seen as an overall threat to the well being of children. The minds of children can be poisoned easily through indoctrination with extremist ideologies. Children then become victims of these ideologies.
6. Media is functioning as a vehicle and reproduction center for the culture of violence. People of faith must cooperate to counter this trend.
7. Religions have been and are being used by many forces to justify violence. Economic and political conflicts are often portrayed as religious conflicts. Religious leaders must exercise their moral influence boldly to put an end to this misuse of religion.
8. Attention must be given to the rights of the unborn.
9. All of the factors listed above contribute to violence, but it must be recognized that this is not an exhaustive list.
Small group recommendations on the three sub-themes:
1st Group: Promoting ethics education to stop violence against children
1. In initiatives for ethics education, listen to children carefully
2. Shift from a materialistic philosophy towards a spiritual one, but maintain a balance between the material and the spiritual.
3. Use Learning to Live Together in many settings. A program for training facilitators should be planned and implemented. Social workers and NGOs can help to accomplish this.
4. Members of this discussion group and members of the GNRC are urged to demonstrate their personal commitment to promoting ethics education to stop violence against children.
5. Support general ethics education in schools.
2nd Group: Mobilizing religious and spiritual communities to prevent violence against children
1. Religion should be independent of political power.
2. Religious communities should take the lead.
3. Religion has been a political power. A kind of religious education that will make children open to other traditions must be upheld.
4. Promote inter-religious forums that are committed to peace.
5. In contexts of conflict and animosity, build a culture of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.
6. Address the marginalization of the girl child in African societies.
7. Religious education must be transformed.
8. Selfishness among religious leaders must be eliminated.
9. Religions are being abused to recruit children to combat in war contexts; religious communities must be mobilized to confront this practice together.
3rd group: Engaging decision makers and civil society to build a culture of non-violence
1. Violence occurs both in private and public spaces. The principles of the CRC should be implemented both in family and public spaces. Civil society must take responsibility for this.
2. More must be done to protect and heal those already victimized by violence.
3. Mass media should be used in our programs to promote a culture of non-violence.
4. Families must be empowered to be builders of peace; governments should have policy to accomplish this.
5. The GNRC should help to draft national plans against violence.
6. Local commissions should be established to monitor and combat violence against children.
7. The GNRC should urge governments to implement the CRC, by ratifying it and implementing it in policy
8. Recommendations must be very contextually sensitive; a policy frame which is workable in one place may not be good in another.
9. Support the recommendations presented by the UN Secretary General's Study on Violence against Children approved by the UN General Assembly in November 2006.
10. Make full use of the UN declaration on religious freedom in the GNRC's work.
11. Promote dialogue on the culture of violence.