Hidden in Plain Sight: a statistical analysis of violence against children
The protection of children from all forms of violence is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Convention on the rights of the Child and other international human rights treaties and standards . yet violence remains an all-too-real part of life for children around the globe – regardless of their economic and social circumstances, culture, religion or ethnicity – with both immediate and long-term consequences .
Children who have been severely abused or neglected are often hampered in their development, experience learning difficulties and perform poorly at school . They may have low self-esteem and suffer from depression, which can lead, at worst, to risky behaviours and self-harm . Witnessing violence can cause similar distress . Children who grow up in a violent household or community tend to internalize that behaviour as a way of resolving disputes, repeating the pattern of violence and abuse against their own spouses and children . beyond the tragic effects on individuals and families, violence against children carries serious economic and social costs in both lost potential and reduced productivity.
Over the last decade, recognition of the pervasive nature and impact of violence against children has grown . Still, the phenomenon remains largely undocumented and underreported . This can be attributed to a variety of reasons, including the fact that some forms of violence against children are socially accepted, tacitly condoned or not perceived as being abusive . Many victims are too young or too vulnerable to disclose their experience or to protect themselves . And all too often when victims do denounce an abuse, the legal system fails to respond and child protection services are unavailable . The lack of adequate data on the issue is likely compounding the problem by fuelling the misconception that violence remains a marginal phenomenon, affecting only certain categories of children and perpetrated solely by offenders with biological predispositions to violent behaviour.