It’s Child Protection Week in Australia- a chance to focus attention on the fact that keeping children safe is “everyone’s business”. In Queensland, it’s also an opportunity to remind communities around the state to take responsibility for ensuring the well-being of our children.
At QCDFVR, this week we’re shining a light on what violence against children means. The World Health Organization (WHO) (2016) tells us that violence against children is inclusive of neglect, and like violence against women can involve physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. For infants and younger children, according to the WHO, violence mainly takes the form of maltreatment at the hands of parents, caregivers and other authority figures. As children develop, the nature of violence tends to change to take in peer and intimate partner violence, bullying, fighting, sexual violence, and assault.
The issue is a significant one for all of us. Globally, over the course of their childhood, one in four children suffers physical abuse and almost one in five girls and one in 13 boys suffer sexual abuse. Homicide is among the top five causes of death in adolescents around the world. Yet despite its high prevalence, this violence is often concealed, unnoticed or under-reported.
Tragically, the effects of violence ripple beyond childhood: exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and lead to a range of immediate and lifelong physical and mental health consequences. At a societal level, the direct and long-term economic costs associated with violence against children erode investments in education, health and child well-being. So violence against children is insidious- it robs us all not once but over and over, reducing the quality of life and productive capacity of future generations.