CyberDodo takes on child abuse (2-16)

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Violence inflicted upon children is comletely unacceptable and it is banned by the Convention – and yet millions of minors are victims every single day.

In short, what does the Convention have to say about the subject ?

Article 19 - States have the obligation to protect children from all forms of violence or mistreatment while in the care of parents or any other person who has the care of them. The State shall establish and develop prevention and treatment programmes.

What is the situation like ?

As always, in order to be able to implement effective solutions to combat an evil, it is critical to have solid knowledge and understanding of the problem. That is why The Secretary General of the United Nations, in 2003, appointed Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (one of the first supporters of CyberDodo – the Defender of Life) to carry out a world report on the different forms of violence suffered by children.

This information file is greatly inspired by this man’s impressive work and extraordinary personality.

Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro together with Manuel M. Martin

What are the different forms of violence suffered by children ?

Unfortunately, they are so numerous that it would be impossible to provide an exhaustive account – they run the gamut from various forms of discrimination to psychological violence, neglect and humiliating treatments – to physical and sexual abuses.

Where do these abuses occur ?

The study directed by Professor Pinheiro identified five main locations :

The home and family
The school and educational settings
Places of work
The community

Each of these places present specific and serious dangers to children when implicated in violence. Let’s have a look together :

The home and family

All children have needs (to learn more about this subject, see the information file on the best interests of the child) – including fundamental needs such as to breathe and to eat, as well as higher needs such as the acquisition of knowledge in addition to the highest needs which are social in nature, such as to love and to be loved. All forms of violence which transpire in the context of the home and family are truly tragic, since they involve precisely those persons who are meant to ensure the well-being of the child and who the child instinctively trusts.

Abuses that occur within the family can be of all forms – and often go unreported because the child does not dare to report them.

The school and educational settings

This place is important on two accounts :

a) First of all because numerous children are the victims of violence there – « official violence » because there are still countries in the world where schools are permitted to implement corporal punishment , or which is prevalent among children with physical or social differences.

b). Because the school is a very important place involved in creating awareness and providing information on abuse issues, while also exercising an important role in the treatment of children who have been the victim of violence.

Institutional contexts

For numerous reasons, millions of children find themselves separated from their families and placed in institutions (To learn more about this subject, see the episode on the rights of the child under the jurisdiction of the State ). In this context, they may be the victim of different forms of maltreatment, inadequate medical treatment, abusive disciplinary sanctions, or imprisonment with adults, etc.

Places of work

Millions of children work – both legally and illegally (see the episode on dangerous work ) - the main reason for which is the scourge of poverty. With the intent to escape from precarious living conditions, these children are exposed to multiple types of violence, committed by their employees, their colleagues or others exercising either a direct or indirect authority over them.

Once again, the violence can be of all kinds.

The community

When children, like all persons, come together to form groups on the basis of affinity, one would seem to have the basis for solidarity. However, the community is also an entity which can expose some of its members to all forms of violence.


 Children can be the victim of mistreatment in all aspects of their lives

What should we do to fight against the mistreatment of children ?

The answer depends on the level of engagement ; States should :

Ensure complete respect for the Convention and the knowledge thereof by children
Declare all forms of violence against children illegal
Protect children from violence in institutional contexts
Ban corporal punishments
Ban child soldiers
Prosecute those responsible for such violences
Ensure a health care system and social protections for all
Train medical, social and educational personnel to identify and report violence that has been inflicted upon children

Adults should :
Respect the physical and moral integrity of children
Know how to recognize the signs of abuse
Report observed signs of abuse to the appropriate authorities
Contribute to children’s knowledge of the Convention

Children should :
Know that it is never normal to be subject to violence
Never be quiet if they have been the victim of abuse
Not protect the person who inflicted abuse upon them
Ask for help
Know their Rights
Respect their mates

In conclusion :

Maltreatments are inflicted upon hundreds of millions of children – and yet, they are not inevitable. There is an international convention which protects children against all forms of violence – it is the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Indeed, it is precisely CyberDodo’s ambition to make this basic test known to those it sets out to protect – children. The aim is that Children will be able to demand the full protection of each and every one of their rights.

When all children can rest assured that they will never be threatened, beaten, strangled, shook, slapped, hit, burned, raped, terrorised, extorted, starved, uprooted, etc etc. – by anyone- then, and only then, will this world truly be a changed place.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, reminded us that « children are the adults of tomorrow » - so indeed, let’s stop killing our prospects for tomorrow by destroying the present reality of our youngest citizens…

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To see the cartoon on child abuse, click here

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