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Hitting kids

June 30, 2011

Around the world, between 500 million and 1.5 billion children suffer some form of violence every year. A new report from UNICEF details how the world is failing the most vulnerable memebers of society.

A child cowering and covering his face
The majority of the world's children experience violenceImage: Fotolia/godfer

Each year about 70 percent of all children worldwide are victims of violence in one of its many forms, including beatings or sexual aggression, said the UN Special Representative on violence against children, Marta Santos Pais, in Berlin on Thursday.

A child stands against a wall
Poverty-stricken child workers have little protectionImage: DW

A new report published by Unicef estimates that as many as 1.5 billion children are victims of violence each year.

Few protections

The head of Unicef Germany, Jürgen Heraeus emphasized that child protection laws are the weakest in places where they are needed the most, namely in developing countries.

"Child labor, arranged marriage for children, female circumcision, forced prostitution -all of this is being tolerated. In addition, child-rearing practices in many countries are very harsh. Three out of four children say that they have been hit," Heraeus said.

But developing countries aren't the only places that children face violence. In Germany last year, 183 children died from abuse or neglect, UNICEF reported.

Simply tolerated

The wife of German President Christian Wullf, Bettina Wulff, has appealed to parents to take children's rights more seriously. She's also calling attention to forms of violence that have previously been tolerated.

"There are unfortunately many examples: slaps or sexual assault, but also posting insulting and humiliating photos of a student on Facebook, so that anyone can comment."

a girl cries in the corner
Only 29 of 200 countries ourlaw violence against childrenImage: BilderBox

Last fall, the German government held a round table discussion for child victims of sexual abuses, and created a central hotline for those who suffered abuses. Since then, thousands of victims have broken their silence, and other countries, most recently Italy, are following Germany's lead.

UN Special Representative for violence against children, Marta Santos Pais praised the development, saying she was confident the round tables and the report would help move the agenda forward, "to invest in early prevention rather than regretting what happens once things are beyond our control."

Author: Kay-Alexander Scholz (smh)
Editor: Andreas Illmer