All children have the right to be protected from violence inflicted on them by anyone in their lives – whether parents, teachers, friends, romantic partners or strangers. And all forms of violence experienced by children, regardless of the nature or severity of the act, are harmful. Beyond the unnecessary hurt and pain it causes, violence undermines children’s sense of self-worth and hinders their development.
Yet violence against children is often rationalized as necessary or inevitable. It may be tacitly accepted due to the familiarity of perpetrators, or minimized as inconsequential. The memory or reporting of violence may be buried due to shame or fear of reprisal. Impunity of perpetrators and prolonged exposure may leave victims believing violence is normal. In such ways, violence is masked, making it difficult to prevent and end.
A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents uses the most current data to shed light on four specific forms of violence: violent discipline and exposure to domestic abuse during early childhood; violence at school; violent deaths among adolescents; and sexual violence in childhood and adolescence.
The statistics reveal that children experience violence across all stages of childhood, in diverse settings, and often at the hands of the trusted individuals with whom they interact on a daily basis. Ensuring that violence in all its forms is documented through solid data is a first step towards its elimination.