Violence Affects One in Two Children on Earth

The World Health Organization is calling for resolute action to end violence against children. WHO’s appeal comes in advance of a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden this week that will seek solutions to the problem of violence, which affects one out of every two children on this planet.

The upcoming conference will explore ways to achieve the U.N.’s sustainable development goal of ending violence against children by 2030. But, the statistics weigh heavily against this aspiration.

The World Health Organization reports one half of the two billion children on earth, aged between two and 17, are victims of physical, sexual or emotional violence, or neglect. This violence, it says, occurs in the home behind closed doors or in schools. It involves bullying and violent behavior between young people. It says violence thrives in situations of conflict and other fragile settings.

The ultimate consequence of violence is death. WHO Director of Non-Communicable Diseases, Etienne Krug, says homicide is one of the three leading causes of death for adolescents.

“But, beyond that, there are also for those that survive, which is the vast majority a wide array of health consequences — mental health consequences, depression, anxiety, insomnia, changes in behavior,” he said. “They are more likely to smoke, to drink alcohol, to engage in risky sexual behavior, which leads to HIV, NCDs, etc.”

Krug says violence is not inevitable.It is predictable and preventable. He says the Stockholm conference will consider seven strategies for ending violence against children.

These include the enforcement of laws against this practice, changing norms so violence is no longer acceptable, dealing with aggressive behavior of boys, creating safer environments and teaching young parents how to be good parents.

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