“His slap was really painful...I almost saw the stars.”
These are not the stars that children gaze at on a summer’s evening.
More than 1.3 billion children are estimated to be seeing these other stars every year around the world, after being hit or slapped violently by an adult as a method of discipline at home. With 6 out of 10 children experiencing physical punishment at home, this is by far the most prevalent form of violence against children; a global crisis that does not make headlines.
This week, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children is bringing together governments, the UN, civil society, faith leaders, the private sector, philanthropies, academics, and children in Stockholm at the Solutions Summit. Their aim is to look at forms of violence, like corporal punishment, and determine what it would take to end it.
Despite the evidence that proves its harmful effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of children and dispels any disciplinary benefits, many governments fail to ban this practice. As of January 2017, governments of 92 states have made no commitments on this issue. We are one of them.
In World Vision, we believe governments have a role to play in ending this global epidemic, by:
· Banning corporal punishment of children in all settings
· Supporting families and professionals to use positive discipline with children
· Changing societal norms that condone corporal punishment of children
We are also playing our part.
In the Dominican Republic World Vision has gathered more than 10,000 signatures asking for legislation to ban physical punishment, and presented this to the National Congress. Through our Channels of Hope programme, we have taught more than 300 Catholic and Evangelical leaders about positive parenting and discipline.
InPeru, more than 110,000 people have signed a Pact of Tenderness to raise awareness about positive parenting and promote the implementation of a legal ban on physical punishment.
In Romania, a World Vision study looked into the reasons why parents hit children. Based on the data, we are designing programmes to transform these underlying causes, beliefs and behaviours.
“[As] children, we can also make changes for ourselves by supporting adults around us to learn about our rights and how to protect us from violence. Never forget our role to help our peers whose rights are endangered,” says Narangel, a passionate young leader from Mongolia.
Physical punishment thrives in silence and isolation. That is why World Vision also calls for sensitive, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children to report incidents of physical punishment and places where they can receive quality counselling and criminal justice support.
Corporal punishment, like other forms of violence against children, “causes severe emotional breakdown in children and many of them lose faith in life.” says 13-year-old Chamindu, a young leader to from Sri Lanka. “It emphasises the idea that children are unworthy and worthless.”
Children are far from worthless. They are our future.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made.”
Let’s ensure the stars children see are only the ones God intended for them.