Faith communities have critical role in ending violence against children

* World Vision launches global campaign ‘It takes a world to end violence against children’

* A billion children are affected by violence each year

* Faith communities urged to keep children safe

1 March, 2017: This Lent, World Vision is asking churches and congregations to consider what meaningful action they can take to address the brokenness in our world; In particular, the billion children subject to violence every year.

The aid and development agency today launches its campaign ‘It takes a world to end violence against children’. The name is intended to show this issue cannot be solved by one individual, group or organisation. However, World Vision firmly believes faith communities have a critical part to play.

“We know from our development work just how influential faith leaders are. They must educate their congregations about what constitutes violence and the fact it happens in every country, city and community,” says Charles Badenoch, World Vision International’s Head of Advocacy and External Engagement. “Right now, there are children being physically, sexually and emotionally abused. Some are forced into child labour, early marriage or armed recruitment. Every single one of them is being robbed of their rights, dignity and God-given potential.”

It’s estimated violence against children costs seven trillion dollars a year. It slows down economic development and erodes a country’s human and social capital. World Vision believes it is at epidemic proportions and failure to act is akin to condoning it.

"Our response to violence against children is driven by our faith – a response to the belief that every child is made in the image of God. We also believe that systems and structures that perpetuate this vicious cycle of violence have deep ideological and spiritual roots that needs to be dismantled” says Jayakumar Christian, World Vision’s lead for Faith & Development.

World Vision is encouraging faith communities to take action over the next 40 days of the Lenten season (beginning March 1) and beyond to help end violence against children.

Mass prayer vigils for vulnerable children around the world, advocating for law or policy change to better protect children, ensuring young people have someone to talk to if they’re experiencing violence, living the gospel and embracing children and their families who seek refuge among you. The list of potential actions is endless,” says Jayakumar Christian.

“It’s not that people don’t care about this issue,” adds Charles Badenoch “It’s just they’ve forgotten small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. At last count, there were some 2.2 billion Christians globally.”

Over the next five years, ‘It takes a world’ will seek to positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of boys and girls vulnerable to violence; making a significant contribution toward Sustainable Development Goal 16.2.