The Big Picture

On 27 September, (right) UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War Ishmael Beah speaks at a panel discussion on the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups. Beside him is UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. © UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2036/Susan Markisz


What is violence? 

Violence takes place when someone uses their strength or their position of power to hurt someone else on purpose, not by accident. 

Violence includes: 
  • Threats of violence and acts which could possibly cause harm, as well as those that actually do. The harm involved can be to a person's mind and their general health and well-being, as well as to their body.
  • Deliberate harm people do to themselves, including killing themselves. 

Violence against children exists in every country of the world, whatever the culture, ethnic group or background they are from. It doesn't matter whether their families are well-educated or not, rich or poor. Violence can take place anywhere. 

Violence is often hidden 

Much violence against children is hidden. Often the abuse of children happen behind closed doors and is perpetrated by those the child is supposed to be able to trust - parents, family members and acquaintances. Children often suffer in silence, afraid to speak out for fear of retribution or shame. 

All children are at risk of violence by the very fact that they are children. However, some children - because of their gender, race, ethnic origin, disability, or school status - are more vulnerable. 

How does violence affect children? 

Violence can have many effects on children, which can still be felt many years later. Effects may include: 
  • Physical health problems, such as changes in the development of the brain, injuries, bruises and fractures. 
  • Difficulties in dealing with other people. learning problems. 
  • Finding it hard to express feelings in a way that other people can understand. 
  • Emotional health problems including anxiety, depression, aggression or even wanting to kill him or herself. 
  • Being more likely to do dangerous things like using drugs or having sex at a very young age.

Inflicting violence on a child, in whatever form, teaches that child that violence is acceptable and so perpetuates the cycle of violence. By preventing violence today, we help build a future where violence will no longer be tolerated.


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