Lebanon is host to the largest number of refugees per capita. Since the Syria outbreak in 2011, the mass refugee influx has negatively impacted the effectiveness of public institutions, now struggling to serve a high demand on education, health, and social services.
Refugee children in Lebanon make nearly half a million of the population added to another 31% of the host community who are below the age of 18. Lebanon has generously received refugees now finding shelter in urban neighborhoods, rural areas or informal tented settlements. However, living conditions can be challenging, notably to the most vulnerable.
The International Community has also responded to support Lebanon in providing an adequate humanitarian response. Nevertheless, funding relies on donations offered by governments, and budget cuts have severe repercussions on the protection of children.
In terms of child protection, the Lebanese government has demonstrated a serious intention in protecting all children living in Lebanon from different forms of violence since its adoption of the CRC in 1990. Law 422 of Lebanon’s Penal Code passed in 2002 remains the first and last to address the protection of children from “physical assault that surpasses the limits of what is deemed culturally accepted as harmless corporal punishment” despite its limitations. The government approved the first national Child Protection strategy in 2012. However, throughout the past years, the implementation of the strategy was not followed through and thus the overall child protection system in Lebanon remains fragmented and weak.
The month of June marks two international days to remind caregivers, educators, schools, and governments of their commitment to providing children with their right to a full, healthy, and happy life. The International Day for the Protection of the Child (June 1) and the International Day Against Child Labor (June 12). A third International day relevant to the situation of Lebanon is the World Refugee Day (June 20) which reminds the entire International Community about the challenges refugees and especially refugee children face and the violations of their basic human and child rights.
Worst Forms of Violence in Lebanon
92% of Lebanon’s general public say that more needs to be done to protect children from violence in their community, according to a survey conducted by World Vision Lebanon and Ipsos. The survey also reveals that violence is more likely to be experienced at home, but also in school which are the two main places where we expect children to be protected and cared for. 3 out of 4 children in Lebanon are disciplined negatively. Article 186 of Penal Code legitimizes corporal punishment for disciplinary purposes. Both girls and boys are relatively affected by violent discipline and major forms of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Sexual behaviors rank high among the most common category of violence experienced by children in Lebanon. This form of violence remains sensitive amid Lebanese households, as the subject still falls as taboo and is barely contested, and involves religious intervention shadowed by the government that considers sexual violence as a private affair.
Child labor is another trend in households living in poverty or where one or more adult family member is not present or unable to access the labor market. Children are directly exposed to abuse, trauma and exploitation when facing harsh forms of labor such as construction, butchering, dealing with tobacco, and street begging.
Early child marriage remains culturally accepted among various communities and areas. There is no one law that sets the minimum age for marriage, as religious courts lead the cases of the 18 different confessions. The minimum age for marriage varies between 9 for girls and 15 for boys (Shi’aa community) to 17 for girls and 18 for boys (Druze community) .
Children affected by armed conflict, notably those coming from Syria and Iraq, also require an immediate psychosocial support. 3 in 5 Syrian children in Lebanon are not attending schools, and 71% of those attending school do not receive psychosocial support. A post-traumatic syndrome disorder can have a permanent impact on the child’s social and psychological wellbeing. Children in Lebanon can also be exposed to the risk of landmines remaining from the Israeli war on Lebanon in July 2006.
Parents and caregivers must listen to their children’s needs and be aware of the impact of violence on them. Children should be enrolled in schools instead of engaging in labor or marriage. Schools should not accept the integration of violence as part of the educational process and must request the necessary pedagogical support to abolish the culture of violence in the school environment. The Lebanese government must respond to these demands by facilitating social shift and necessary assistance in schools and educational settings and exploring the opportunity of forming child welfare services as well as liaising with religious courts on issues involving sexual abuse and child marriage. The Lebanese government should also consider the efforts of civil societies, local and INGOs’ calling on passing child protection laws. Religious leaders play an important role in promoting positive parenting.
It is Time for Immediate Actions
The Lebanese government must ensure the protection of Lebanese and Syrians from violence and discrimination locally through a clear set of policies. The International Community must renew its support for Lebanon, helping expand its capacity and service delivery. Some government officials continue to remind that Lebanon has not signed the 1951 Convention and 1961 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.
However, Lebanon is a signatory of the CRC and thus the protection of all children in Lebanon from violence including refugees is a government responsibility.
It is essential once a new Cabinet of Ministers is formed, that the Ministry of Social Affairs leads the development of a new national strategy to address violence against children which is developed by an inter-ministerial committee and in consultation with concerned civil society organizations.
In parallel, the parliamentary committee for women and children should out the discussion of Amendments to Law 422 for the protection of Juveniles in light of Law 164 for the punishment for the Crime of Trafficking in Persons which address child trafficking cases including street begging and other forms of trafficking and coerce child labor.
Crucial Role for the International Community
Donor governments have proven a genuine empathy with the people of Lebanon, and have been supporting the country’s institutions through UN Agencies and INGOs. The World Bank estimates that Lebanon endured a loss of around 13 billion US dollars since 2012. In 2017, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) curated by 104 UN and NGO partners has appealed 2.7 billion dollars in funding requirements to support 3.3 million people in need including 1.5 million displaced Syrians, 1.03 vulnerable Lebanese, 257,400 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon and 31,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria.
The International Community’s engagement is also important in ensuring the protection of children in Lebanon from all nationalities whether through funding to support the strengthening of the child protection system in Lebanon or through exploring a fair quota on hosting and facilitating the process of relocating refugees in a third country and reunification of refugees especially for most vulnerable children.
Violence against children costs 7 trillion US dollars each year globally, slowing economic development and eroding human and social capital.
Join the Pledge with World Vision
Since 1975, World Vision has been working in Lebanon through development, relief and advocacy interventions to empower communities and children and ensure the wellbeing of children especially the most vulnerable. World Vision is currently working in the North, South, Bekaa, and Beirut/Mount Lebanon. We are confident that speaking up on the violence children are subjected to is the first step to reduce all forms of violence against children, including physical, emotional and sexual violence.
Violence against children is a thief that robs kids of their childhoods, dignity, human rights and God-given potential. It costs trillions of dollars and slows economic growth. But it doesn’t need to be this way. There are proven solutions and we believe, with your help, that a world without violence against children is possible. World Vision’s global campaign, It takes a world to end violence against children, is igniting movements of people committed to keeping children safe from harm. Its name reflects the fact no one person, group or organization can solve this problem alone.
Our promise? To relentlessly advocate for an end to violence against children. To highlight it when it occurs and hold those responsible to account. To work with survivors to amplify their stories and voices. The bottom line is, children deserve better. Let's work together to make sure they to grow up happy, healthy, educated, loved and protected.
Violence affects around 1.7 billion children every year, in every country, city and community. World Vision believes a world without violence against children is possible, but it takes a world to make it happen. Join us. Add your voice to the thousands around the world joining the movement to end violence against children.
It takes a caregiver, a teacher, a government and a world to end violence against children. #ItTakesAWorld
World Vision Lebanon, National Office
Sanaa Maalouf, External Engagement Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Samir Chalhoub, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator email@example.com
Josephine Haddad, Communications Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
 Statistics in Focus (SIF), Children in Lebanon, 2013
 World Vision Lebanon, Fearing Wrong: Why What Doesn’t Scare Us Should, 2014
 World Vision Lebanon, Beyond Survival, Seven Years of War on Syria’s Children, 2018