On October 2, the world celebrates the International Day of Non-Violence, to recall the importance of combating it in all its forms, especially against children, in light of the suffering of millions who are exposed to violence on a daily basis around the world – in homes, schools, institutions aimed at their care and protection, as well as through various media, drama, songs, in addition to modern electronic games.
The freedom of children from violence is a fundamental human right recognized in the convention on the rights of the child and its Optional Protocols, and their protection, as the international community has officially pledged to preserve it and included it in the core of the Global Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.The new plan included for the first time a specific target (target 16.2) to end all forms of violence against children, and the issue of ending child abuse, neglect and exploitation was generalized to several other violence-related targets such as child marriage, female genital mutilation (target 5.3) and the elimination of child labour, including the recruitment and use of children (Target 8.7).
In fact, the magnitude and impact of the phenomenon of violence against children remain significant and are of great concern, especially since violence is associated with high costs for households, communities and national economies due to the serious and long-term effects on children’s development, health and education.violence can destroy development gains that took years to achieve in a matter of hours.
The Strategic Forum for Public Policy and Development Studies “Draya” issues this research paper, which sheds light on facts about the phenomenon of violence against children, and the most prominent indicators at the global and local levels, in addition to revealing its serious repercussions on societies, and the economic cost resulting from it. The paper also monitors the efforts made by the Egyptian state to address this phenomenon, and presents some proposals through which the rates of spread of violence against children can be reduced globally and locally.
The research paper addresses the phenomenon of violence against children through several axes, including:
First: Facts about the phenomenon of violence against children (concept – types – causes)
Second: Indicators of violence against children globally.
Third: The repercussions of the phenomenon of violence against children.
Fourth: The economic costs resulting from violence against children.
Fifth: Indicators of violence against children in Egypt.
Sixth: The Egyptian state’s efforts to eliminate violence against children.
Seventh: Proposals to reduce the phenomenon of violence against children.
The paper reached a number of results, the most prominent of which are as follows:
– Half of the world’s children, almost a billion children aged 2-17 years, suffer from some form of violence annually.
– Approximately 3 out of 4 children, or the equivalent of 300 million children worldwide aged 2-4 years, suffer from physical punishment and/or psychological violence on a regular basis at the hands of parents and caregivers.
-At least 55 million children in Europe suffer from some form of physical, sexual, emotional and psychological violence annually.
– High-income countries constitute the highest percentage of countries with fully funded National Action Plans to address violence against children, while low-income countries are the least funded in national action plans to confront this phenomenon.
Violence against children costs the global economy between 1.49 trillion and 6.9 trillion dollars a year.
– The health sector incurs the largest economic cost, as about 581 billion dollars are spent annually on the treatment of victims of violence against children.
– Female children in Egypt are exposed to violence more than males, and the percentage of female exposure to violence in the countryside rises to 14% compared to 8% among males.
– The percentage of circumcision among girls at the age stage ( 0-17 years) is increasing in rural areas and will reach 14% in 2021, compared to 8% in urban areas.
– Methods of severe corporal punishment decreased from 43.2% in 2014 to 26.2% in 2021, physical punishment from 78% to 56.6%, and psychological punishment from 91% to 78.3% in the same period.
First: Facts about violence against children
A-The concept of violence against children:
The World Health Organization defines violence against children as “all forms of violence against persons under 18 years of age, whether committed by parents, other caregivers, peers, or romantic partners,” and thus the definition of violence emphasizes:
1- Non justification: “No violence against children can be justified, as all types of violence against children can be prevented.”
2- Non-exception: considering “all forms of violence against children to be unacceptable, whatever they may be” and not undermining the child’s absolute right to dignity, humanity, and physical and psychological integrity in any way.
B- Forms of violence against children:
1- Physical violence: It is any punishment in which physical force is used and causes the infliction of a certain degree of pain and harm, no matter how low their severity.
2- Sexual violence: It includes coercing a child to engage in any illegal or psychologically harmful sexual activity, sexually exploiting children for commercial purposes, and exploiting children by making audio-visual recordings of cases of sexual assault against them.
3- Psychological violence: psychological abuse or mental abuse, or verbal abuse and emotional abuse, and it includes all forms of interaction with the child that always involve harm, such as making him feel that he is worthless, unloved or unwanted.
4- Electronic violence:
-Sexual abuse of children to produce visual and audio recordings facilitated by the Internet and other information and communications technologies.
– Children are exposed to offensive, violent, hateful, biased, racist, pornographic or misleading content.
– In the context of their communication with others through information and communications technology, children are exposed to bullying, harassment, stalking, coercion, deception, persuasion into a personal meeting outside the Internet, or luring them.
C- Causes of violence against children:
Who has confirmed that violence against children is a multifaceted problem due to multiple causes at the levels of the individual, close relationships, local groups and society, important risk factors are the following:
1-individual level :
– Biological and personal aspects such as gender and age.
– Low levels of Education.
– Low income.
– Having a disability or mental health problems.
– Taking alcohol and drugs in a way that is harmful to health.
– An extended history of exposure to violence.
2-the level of close relationships :
– Lack of emotional bonds between children and parents or caregivers.
– Poor pedagogical practices.
– Family dysfunction and separation.
– Knowledge of violence between parents or caregivers.
– Early or forced marriage.
3-the level of society
– Poverty and high population density.
– Low social cohesion and the existence of social and gender values create a climate in which violence becomes commonplace.
– Absence or insufficiency of social protection.
– Post-conflict situations or natural disasters.
– Contexts characterized by weak governance and poor law enforcement.
Second: Indicators of violence against children globally
Indicators of violence against children at the global level reflect a shocking reality, as countless children of all ages are still exposed to violence in its various forms. The most prominent indicators are as follows, based on international estimates issued by WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO:
1– one out of two children or a total of one billion children – equivalent to half of the world’s children-aged 2-17 years suffer from some form of violence annually.
2.approximately 3 out of 4 children or the equivalent of 300 million children worldwide among those aged two to 4 years suffer from physical punishment and/or psychological violence on a regular basis at the hands of parents and caregivers.
3-emotional violence affects one out of three children, and one out of four children under the age of five lives with a mother who is a victim of partner violence.
4 – one out of every 3 students between the ages of 13 and 15 has been involved in physical altercations (45% male-25% female).
5-about 120 million girls under the age of Twenty have suffered from some form of forced sexual relations.
6-at least 55 million children in Europe suffer from some form of physical, sexual, emotional and psychological violence annually.
7 – of the 204 million children under the age of 18 in Europe, 9.6% are exposed to sexual exploitation, 22.9% to physical violence and 29.1% to emotional damage. In addition, 700 children are killed every year, according to the UN regional office in Europe.
Although the majority of countries (83%) have national data on violence against children, only about 21% of countries have used this data to set national baselines and goals for preventing and responding to violence against children.
Percentages of countries that have fully funded national action plans by type of violence and country income level for 2018
Source: Global Report on Prevention of Violence against Children 2020
Third: The repercussions of violence against children
The World Health Organization (who) has confirmed that violence against children has serious repercussions and effects that significantly affect the enjoyment of Health and well-being by children, families, communities and countries throughout their lives, noting the following:
– 40,150 deaths occur annually among children aged zero to 17 years (28,160 males – 11,990 females).
– Children aged 11-15 who are bullied at school are 13% less likely to graduate from school.
– Adults who have experienced 4 or more negative experiences in childhood (including physical, sexual and emotional abuse) are 7 times more likely as a victim or perpetrator of violence, and 30 times more likely to make a suicide attempt 30 times.
Men who were physically and sexually abused in childhood are 14 times more likely to commit physical and sexual violence in intimate relationships, and women are 16 times more likely to suffer from physical and sexual violence.
These implications can be summarized as follows:
1-death: violence against children may lead to death or manslaughter, especially in forms of violence involving the use of white weapons and firearms. It ranks among the top three causes of death in adolescents, with boys making up more than 80% of victims and perpetrators.
2- Poor mental and nervous development: Violence against children can impair mental development and harm other parts of the nervous system, as well as the endocrine glands, circulatory system, musculoskeletal tissue, reproductive, respiratory and immune systems.
3- Poor cognitive development and a negative impact on the level of academic achievement and professional achievement.
4.Sexual Violence Against Children can lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynecological problems, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection.
5- Dropping out of education: Violence against children affects opportunities and future generations. Children exposed to violence and other hostilities are more likely to drop out of school, face difficulties in finding and maintaining job opportunities, and are exposed to increased risks of becoming victims of abuse and/or committing violence. Personal and later self-directed, violence against children can affect the next generation.
Fourth: The economic costs resulting from violence against children
Violence against children has economic costs in the short, medium and long term, which are incurred by individuals, groups and societies. In general, the economic costs resulting from violence can be divided into two types:
Direct costs include the following:
– Costs for health-care systems dealing with the treatment of the short-and long-term physical effects of injuries caused by violence against children.
– Costs also incurred by health care systems as a result of the treatment of psychological and behavioral problems among adults caused by exposure to violence in childhood.
– Costs incurred by social welfare systems related to the monitoring, prevention, protection and response to violence against children.
Direct costs include the following:
-Costs on health care systems that treat the short- and long-term physical effects of injuries resulting from violence against children.
-Costs also incurred by health care systems as a result of treating psychological and behavioral problems among adults resulting from their exposure to violence in childhood.
-Costs incurred by social welfare systems related to monitoring, preventing, protecting and responding to violence against children.
– Indirect costs, including losses in productivity, resulting from the way violence hinders the development of children.adults who are exposed to violence in childhood have little access to education, employment, wages and property, which causes victims to receive poor wages throughout their lives and has a negative impact on society as a whole.
Violence against children affects their academic performance once they enroll in education, resulting in a decline in educational achievement, and consequently negatively affects employment and the consequent loss of earnings in adulthood. Exposure to violence in childhood can also lead to psychological and behavioral problems at a later stage, which also hinder the child’s education.
The World Health Organization has indicated that violence against children costs the world economy between 1.49 trillion and 6.9 trillion dollars annually, and that many of the economic costs are incurred by the health sector, as about 581 billion dollars are spent annually on treating victims of violence against children. Some studies have indicated that the economic costs resulting from violence against children may reach the equivalent of 10% of the global gross domestic product.
Fifth: indicators of violence against children in Egypt
The most important indicators of violence against children according to the health survey conducted by the central agency for public mobilization and statistics 2021 and published its results in December 2022 were as follows :
– Female children are exposed to violence more than males, and the percentage of female exposure to violence in the countryside rises to 14% compared to 8% among males.
-About 29% of female children who have not completed primary school are exposed to violence, compared to 13% of males at the same age.
– The rate of circumcision among girls aged 0-17 years was about 12% in 2021, compared to 18% in 2014.
– The percentage of circumcision among girls at the age stage ( 0-17 years) is increasing in rural areas and will reach 14% in 2021, compared to 8% in urban areas, as shown in the following figure:
Yelling or talking loudly with a child is the most violent method used with children by 75%.
Hitting a child on his hand or arm was one of the most used methods of physical violence, with 4 out of 10 women mentioning hitting a child on his hands, arm or leg as a method of controlling behavior.
Hitting or slapping a child on the face, head or ears was the most common method of physical violence, with a percentage of 25%.
In general, the results of the Egyptian Family Health Survey indicate a decrease in the use of violent parenting methods in the 2021 health survey compared to what was observed in the 2014 Population Health Survey, with an increase in the use of non-violent behavior control methods .
Source: Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics
Sixth: The Egyptian state’s efforts to eliminate violence against children
Egypt has made great efforts to adopt laws and political measures that would ensure better protection of children from violence in all its forms, which contributed to a significant decrease in the rates of violence against children..The most prominent efforts are as follows:
1-Article 80 of the Constitution of 2014 :the Constitution of 2014 guaranteed all aspects of protection and care for the Egyptian child, where it is clearly stated in Article 80 that ” everyone who has not reached the age of eighteen is considered a child, and every child has the right to a name and identification papers, free compulsory vaccination, health and family or alternative care, basic nutrition, safe shelter, religious education, emotional and cognitive development. The state guarantees the rights of children with disabilities, their rehabilitation and integration into society. The state is obliged to take care of the child and protect him from all forms of violence, abuse, maltreatment, sexual and commercial exploitation.
2-amending the Penal Code of 2014, which criminalizes sexual harassment for the first time.
3-Egypt has ratified a number of international human rights treaties that guarantee the rights of the child, such as the convention on the rights of the child and the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child.
4-the government has committed to implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Plan, which includes ambitious goals to end violence as part of a broader vision “the world invests in its children, a world where every child grows up safe from violence and exploitation”.
5-formation of multiple child protection committees at the governorate and district levels (child protection committees), which are subordinate to the Ministry of local development.
6-The Ministry of Social Solidarity provides supportive services to families through the home visits program for rural women pioneers, its family registration offices, and early childhood development centers, which contribute to reducing rates of violence against children.
7-The Ministry of Social Solidarity and the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood launched a number of initiatives aimed at stopping violence against children, which are “No to Violence Campaign, Stop the Violence Campaign, Anti-Bullying Campaign, Protect Her from Circumcision Campaign, Our Children Campaign, and the “With Calmness, Not Cruelty” Campaign.
8- Establishing the National Committee to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation in 2019. In 2021, the Senate approved a draft law amending the provisions of the Penal Code to tighten the punishment for female circumcision, in addition to launching the National Council for Women a door-knocking campaign and the “Protect Her from Circumcision” campaign.
– The anti-addiction and Treatment Fund of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which targets adolescents in the age group of 12: 18 years, has implemented many awareness-raising activities on the harms of drug use in 4,500 schools, 276 colleges and higher institutes in 55 public, private and private universities and higher institutes nationwide, as well as 893 youth centers in 2022.
Seventh: proposals to reduce violence against children
Although the protection of children from violence is increasingly recognized in international, regional and national programs, the progress made is too slow, uneven and fragmented to allow a real breakthrough in the field of child protection, there is still much that can be done decisively to allow every girl and boy to enjoy their childhood in a violence-free environment.
A-at the global level:
International organizations have made a great effort to study the phenomenon of violence against children at the International and regional levels and have made a large number of recommendations in this regard, the most prominent of which are the following :
– All governments should develop and promote a child-centred, integrated, multidisciplinary and time-bound national strategy to prevent and respond to violence against children.
– An explicit legal prohibition of all forms of violence against children should be urgently established and supported by detailed measures for implementation and effective enforcement.
– Legal initiatives and measures should be accompanied by further efforts to overcome the social acceptance of violence against children.
-Data and information on the prevalence of violence against children should be made available.
– Strengthen national systems for the protection of children, especially those at risk of exploitation and violence, in order to better include them, especially unaccompanied children.
– Ensure that all refugee and migrant children have access to education and are provided with access to health and other basic services.
B-at the local level
The state has made many efforts to eliminate the phenomenon of violence against children, both on the scale of legislation ensuring the protection of children, and on the institutional scale, as the paper indicated earlier. But more efforts can be made to eliminate this phenomenon by taking the following measures:
1-strengthen and develop follow-up frameworks and mechanisms to ensure the enforcement of child protection laws, strengthen accountability, and enable security and judicial prosecution of perpetrators of violence against children.
2-activating the role of the child protection committees of the National Council for Childhood and motherhood in various governorates of the Republic and supporting them with more social workers and psychologists
3-preparing a long-term national media campaign aimed at introducing educational means that can be used with children as an alternative to violence while working to confront all inherited norms and concepts that legitimize the use of violence against children as the first way to raise and discipline children.
4-include school curricula with programs that confront and combat violence against children as well as how to deal with bullying and online violence.
5-developing preventive and awareness programs and ensuring that their coverage is balanced in different governorates and for different segments of the population.
6-providing specialized support teams and services to deal with children who have been subjected to violence and abuse, including doctors, social and psychological specialists, while providing safe mechanisms to file a complaint and report any attempts of violence and abuse that children may be exposed to .
7-allocate a unit or department within the Ministry of education and the Ministry of Health that is concerned with confronting violence against children and researching its causes and means of treatment, and this unit can also participate the concerned authorities in developing the necessary plans to confront violence against children.
8-increasing the number of NGOs working in the field of child welfare and encouraging them by providing more human, financial and material support to them.
9-involve religious institutions in managing the change of misconceptions regarding the acceptance and justification of violence against children.