What is violence? At the launch of Child Protection Week, we’re asking you to rethink your definition of violence and what it means for children
For many children around the world, games like hide and seek have a darker side. While all children deserve a childhood free from violence, many live in fear of it every day of their lives – and there’s a lot more to the word violence than you might think:
1. Violence comes in many different forms
Violence is a word that goes deep. Some types of violence come to mind instantly – hitting, kicking, scratching, burning – but others might not be immediately recognisable.
Here are some of the things we’re talking about when we talk about violence:
Children should never be a target in war, but in reality, children’s lives are lost every day to bombs, and gunfire and war. Injuries are sustained and the impact on children’s mental health can be felt forever.
It forces girls into adulthood and motherhood before they’re ready. They miss out on education and the chance to realise their potential. And for many, childbirth poses a serious risk to their lives – globally, it’s the second leading cause of death of 15- to 19-year-olds.
Children sold into dangerous exploitative work – be that prostitution, military service or child labour – can be deeply scarred by their horrific experiences. Especially as they are often forced into those situations by adults they thought they could trust.
A child’s home should be the place they feel safest. But violence against children in their own home can have a huge impact on them as they grow up, and some may feel like they have no option but to flee in the search of safety, which can rob them of education and health services. The different types of violence faced by children are horrifying. And this isn’t even an exhaustive list.
2. It happens at home and overseas
Violence against children happens everywhere. In every state of Australia, in countries rich and poor. It happens in big cities and small towns, and just down the road.
It can happen in the places where children should feel most safe, such as schools and their own homes.
That’s why Save the Children works in different countries and communities, in places near and far – wherever children and families need us most.
3. It can be visible or hidden
Some forms of violence are splashed across our television screens when we turn on the news in the evening. Sadly, it’s common for us to see children caught in conflict in different countries around the world. The physical damage being done is clear and obvious.
But what about the mental impact of violence? And what about the violence that goes on behind closed doors?
4. Violence won’t just affect a child today. It can affect them for life
Whether it happens over an extended period of time, or is an isolated incident, violence can affect a child for the rest of the life. They are more likely to become violent or end up in violent relationships. They could experience health issues including psychosocial distress. It can destroy confidence and self-esteem. And it can put an end to their ability to hope and dream.
We do all we can to stop children been hurt or exploited, and when they’ve had traumatic experiences, we run psychosocial support programs to help them build trust, self-confidence and renewed hope.
5. A child dies every 5 minutes from violence
Childhood should be a magical, wonderful thing. We all have a right to enjoy fun-filled days, without worry, responsibility or fear. To play, and laugh and make friends. And to feel loved.
But every 5 minutes a child dies from violence, and millions more witness it being carried out against others. It’s a sobering fact. And it’s one we want to change. Are you with us?
All children deserve a childhood and the chance of a bright future. And it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that happens.