I have spent the last week in Bogota with 10 children and young people from across Latin America discussing the significance of children’s participation and the impact of violence against children, on their lives and those of their community and their societies more broadly. I am inspired by the way these children represented the views of over 2,000 children from 28 countries, making a series of clear recommendations to policy makers and international organisations.
Children bring a unique vision of a world, a belief that real change is possible, and the enthusiasm to make it happen. They act together to improve and shape their own lives and those of entire communities and societies.
I am personally disheartened (and angry) by the fact that 1 billion children currently experience violence every year.
As we observe Universal Children's Day, I would like to reflect on two substantive rights granted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Articles 12 and 19, which outline the rights to protection and participation. Over the past several years, I have been privileged to witness the growth of our work in these two critical areas, from child parliaments in India, to child led research in Lebanon, youth led campaign groups in Brazil, and high level engagement at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This has led to impact for children across the world, along with providing an important foundation for our advocacy and campaigning efforts – child and youth participation is now a central approach and strategic driver in our new global campaign to end violence against children.
The Universal Children's Day was established ‘as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children’ and later came to commemorate the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The question we all face now is how far have we come and what must take place to move the child rights agenda forward?
I am personally disheartened (and angry) by the fact that 1 billion children currently experience violence every year. Evidence shows that more than three-quarters of people know a child victim of violence, and nearly one-third know one personally. The majority of people believe the problem has increased in their country over the past five years, and nearly half feel that enough is not being done. I am convinced that the time to act is now and we are beginning to see a growing movement of individuals and organisations coming together to increase global political will and investments to end the scourge of violence against children.
let us be united in the fight to end violence against children and find meaningful and innovative partnerships with children and young people to end all forms of violence against them.
Often, the natural tendency of adults is to see children as vulnerable – this undermines their ability to participate and provide solutions to social issues. However, the Convention calls us to see children and young people as social actors who can contribute to significant changes in the decisions that most affect their lives, including the strategies and policies that are needed to prevent violence.
Just this week I have seen a powerful first-hand account- an empowered group of children and young people who have provided constructive insights, knowledge and experience to key global issues. Clearly we must recognise children and young people not as citizens of tomorrow – but citizens of today.
As we celebrate Universal Children’s Day, let us be united in the fight to end violence against children and find meaningful and innovative partnerships with children and young people to end all forms of violence against them.
About the author
Andrew Hassett has worked within the international development sector for 12 years and is currently the Director of Advocacy and Global Campaigns at World Vision International where he overseas the strategic direction of the organisation's advocacy campaigns. Prior to this, Andrew held several senior roles within the Advocacy Department at World Vision Australia, including Deputy Head of Advocacy, Research & Policy Manager and Campaigns Manager. He holds a Master of International Studies, and Bachelor of Commerce and Arts and is currently and honorary research fellow at Deakin University.