“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 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, particularly in the field of juvenile justice and most recently with a focus on gender-based violence.
DCI was a major partner in the NGO collaboration for the preparation of the UN Study on Violence against Children in 2006 and its subsequent follow up. DCI-IS regularly contributes to the work of the SRSG on Violence and Children. Likewise, DCI-IS is an active member of the Child Rights Connect’s working group on Children and Violence. This group aims to join efforts to advocate for the elimination of violence against children with the UN human rights mechanism and bodies in Geneva and to follow-up on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially target 16.2 on ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children. DCI-IS is also a member of the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the International Ngo Council on Violence Against Children.
Some progress in the adoption of legal instruments has been achieved, yet some of the worst forms of violence remain lawful around the world and some estimates report that at least one billion children endure some kind of violence every year (See: International NGO Council on Violence Against Children, 10 years on: Global Progress and Delay in Ending Violence Against Children – Rhetoric and the Reality, November 2016).
DCI will continue to advocate at all levels for the elimination of violence against children, and it will remain one of its thematic priorities at all levels of implementation. To achieve concrete results in eliminating violence against children, DCI focuses on:
- Advocating and lobbying with HR Treaty Bodies, 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.
States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. (art. 32.1 UNCRC)
Child labour and access to education is a serious concern in a number of the countries in which DCI works. DCI believes that any initiatives to end child labour must address its root causes, such as poverty, and must emphasize the right to education.
Around the world, growing gaps between the rich and poor in recent decades have forced millions of young children out of school and into work. The International Labor Organization estimates that 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work under conditions that are considered illegal, hazardous, or extremely exploitative. Underage children work in all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers.
In the past, DCI promoted a Campaign for Inclusive Education to address the issue entitled No Kids without Education: We can all make a Difference. The goal of the Campaign was to guarantee that 100% of school-aged working children and adolescents effectively exercise their right to a complete and receive quality education.
States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form. (Art. 35, UNCRC) (a) Sale of children means any act or transaction whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for remuneration or any other consideration; (b) Child prostitution means the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration; (c) Child pornography means any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes […] States Parties shall prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as provided for by the present Protocol. (art. 2 and 1 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography)
Child trafficking involves treating children as an object for the purpose of exploitation. Not only is it a violation of their human rights and their well-being but it also denies them the opportunity to reach their full potential. It is estimated that over 1.2 million children are being trafficked every year.
Children who have been exploited need protection. Protecting trafficked children involves placing them in a safe and child-friendly environment, providing them with health care, psychosocial support and other social services as well as helping them reintegrate with their families and the community (if it is proven to be in their best interest).
DCI actively promotes and protects children’s rights at the international level. The International Secretariat addresses issues concerning trafficking and directly engages with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking. The Secretariat also indirectly cares for children involved in trafficking, as many of which end up deprived of liberty.