The global scandal of violence against children is a horror story too often untold. In investigating this issue, Human Rights Watch has found a disturbing but persistent theme – in every region of the world children suffer innumerable forms of violence, most often perpetrated by the individuals that are responsible for their safety and well-being.
Street children are often detained by police without sufficient cause, and are brutally interrogated and tortured in order to elicit confessions or information. Sometimes they are imprisoned in cells with adults or placed in juvenile and criminal correctional institutions where mistreatment is often part of the daily routine.
Seven or eight-year-old kids are recruited or kidnapped to serve as soldiers in armed conflict situations. Refugee children who are separated from their families become vulnerable to exploitation and sexual abuse.
Children as young as six years old are forced to work under extremely difficult conditions, as bonded laborers or in forced prostitution. They may be beaten for working too slowly, making mistakes, arriving late or simply as an instrument of intimidation. (…)
Even in schools, where education is supposed to be promoted, life in and outside the classroom may be intolerable. At the hands of peers and teachers, many students suffer under acts of abuse, sexual violence, harassment and discrimination because of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or social group.
Silence and inaction allow violence against children to continue. Children – particularly those most vulnerable – have few mechanisms for reporting violence. They may be reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals. And because they are so young, their complains are usually not taken seriously. Even when reports are made or abuse is exposed, perpetrators are rarely investigated or prosecuted.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations in 1989, obliges governments to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence. Since the adoption of the convention, many countries have made significant advances on this issue, such as the revision of domestic legislation. The next step towards finding a solution to this problem is to start facing violence against children as a global phenomenon which demands international responses.
PLATERO, Luciana e DONNINI, Lívia. All Set! Book 2. Boston: Heinly Cengage Learning, 2009. (Adaptado)
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