“All forms of physical or mental violence” does not leave room for any level of legalized violence against children. Frequency, severity of harm and intent to harm are not prerequisites for the definitions of violence […] States parties need to establish national standards for child well-being, health and development as securing these conditions is the ultimate goal of child caregiving and protection. (art. 19.1 UNCRC, GC 13)

Violence is a global epidemic and an unfortunate daily reality for millions of children. Children of all ages, all genders, all social contexts, and all nationalities are beaten, sexually assaulted, tortured, and even killed. Violence takes place in their homes and families, schools, institutions, workplaces and communities.

The perpetrators are often those closest to the children – their parents, guardians, teachers, employers, police and security forces – the individuals who are meant to protect them. Violence against children has been occurring for far too long and is an affront to universal morality and social consciousness. This scar on human development must be stopped. It was only in 2006 that the first global study on violence against children (the UN World Report on Violence against Children) was published revealing the scope and scale of violations to the world.

Recognising the urgent need for immediate action to prevent and respond to violence against children in all its forms following the 2006 UN study, the International Secretariat of Defence for Children International (DCI-IS) signed an international call for action to end violence against children, and establish a Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children. The call for action was heard, along with 2123 signatures, and in 2009 the UN General Assembly established the role of Special Representative to the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children with a three-year mandate.

Ever since, DCI-IS has regularly contributed to the work of the SRSG on Violence and Children.

In our efforts to provide continued support for the effective implementation of the recommendations made in the 2006 UN study at the international level, DCI is a member of the International NGO Council on Violence Against Children (InCo), which is composed of 18 members, 9 of which are international members and 9 regional representatives. The international representatives are from international NGOs, many of whom actively supported the Study. Regional representatives represent the nine regions identified during the Study, and are nominated from within regional networks. The InCo encourages and facilitates NGO involvement at a national, regional, and international level in follow-up advocacy with governments, UN agencies and others. This is done by identifying key priorities and developing follow-up activities and strategies with UN SRSG on VAC; identifying and transmitting important information regarding VAC from the field level to the SRSG and other appropriate UN bodies; using and strengthening existing information channels and networks to inform the child rights NGO community; supporting the SRSG in developing a mechanism for the participation of children and young people in follow-up activities, participating in monitoring implementation by member states; and developing advocacy tools for national NGOs.

DCI is also a member of the Working Group of Children & Violence of Child Rights Connect and former co-convener of the same group.

Violence against children remains to be a fundamental and cross-cutting global issue. DCI is continuously creating actions aimed at preventing and responding to violence against children in all settings, but particularly in the field of juvenile justice.

To achieve concrete results in eliminating violence against children, DCI focuses on:

  • Advocating and lobbying with the Human Rights Council (HRC), and its mechanisms, for the elimination of all forms of violence against children at the international level through meetings with OHCHR Special Procedure mandate-holders, oral and written statements, alternative reports to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), etc.
  • Raising awareness and advocating for governments to take action on the recommendations made in the UN study on Violence against Children, at the international level, and provide capacity-building to our national sections in their advocacy work at the regional and national level.
  • Raising awareness on hidden issues in violence against children through drafting thematic reports and newsletters.