Violence against children

Violence against children remains a priority issue for the Office of the High Commissioner for Children's Rights and the Office sits on the Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence against Children.

2020

Following the publication of the Secretary-General's policy brief on children and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence against Children issued an Agenda for Action for Member States, calling for a child rights-based and multi-sectoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2014

Pursuant to its resolution 25/10, the Human Rights Council held a panel discussion, on 23 September 2014, at its twenty-seventh session, on accelerating global efforts to end violence against children, with a particular focus on how to better prevent violence and protect children as a global priority and cross-cutting concern, and to share best practices and lessons learned in that regard. In resolution 25/10, the Council also requested the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the discussions of the panel, and to submit it to the Council before its twenty-eighth session.

2012

In 2012 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report describing the situation of violence against children in the juvenile justice system, identifying the risks of violence to which children are exposed and analysing the systemic factors which contribute to violence. The report provides a number of recommended strategies to prevent and respond to violence against children in the juvenile justice system. It was submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 18/12, and built upon the 2006 United Nations Study on Violence against Children, which remains a foundational document for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children in all settings, including within the juvenile justice system.

Consultation on effective child sensitive counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms

In resolution 13/20 adopted by the Human Rights Council on 26 March 2010 entitled "Rights of the child: the fight against sexual violence against children" the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children were invited to report to the Council at its sixteenth session on effective and child-sensitive counselling, complaint and reporting mechanisms to which children can safely report incidents of violence, including sexual violence and exploitation. The Human Rights Council invited them in doing so, to cooperate with other relevant partners such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, States, National Human Rights Institutions and ombudspersons for children, United Nations agencies, regional organizations, civil society organizations and children themselves. (para. 18).

Expert Consultation: Child sensitive counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms © OHCHRAs part of the preparation of the report, a consultation with selected experts on effective child sensitive counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms was organized by OHCHR and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children on 30 September and 1st October.

Objectives

The UN Study on Violence against Children recommended the creation of accessible and child-friendly reporting systems and services. It recommended States to establish safe, well-publicized, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their representatives and others to report violence against children. All children, including those in school, care and justice institutions, should be aware of the existence of mechanisms of counseling and complaint. Mechanisms such as victim counseling, support and reporting offices and free telephone help lines, through which children can access information and advice, report abuse and speak to a trained counselor in confidence should be established. The creation of other ways of reporting violence, including through new technologies should be considered. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its General Comment no. 2 (2002) encourages State Parties to establish independent institutions for the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the Convention. The institution, whatever its form, should be able, independently and effectively, to monitor, promote and protect children's rights. 

With this in mind, the consultation exchanged experiences and provided input to the report requested to the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children by the Human Rights Council. It was also a follow up activity to the UN Study on Violence against Children. 

In particular the consultation aimed to:

Provide an overview of the different models of accessible and child-friendly counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms established at governmental level and by independent institutions and civil society organizations.

Draw attention to challenges and good practices in the use of such mechanisms (i.e help lines, child clubs, confidential counseling, national independent human rights institutions, and ombudspersons for children) by children and their representatives, particularly issues of accessibility, confidentiality, knowledge about rights, child participation, safeguard of privacy and protection of victims of violence, including sexual violence and exploitation. 

Identify obligations, roles and responsibilities of different actors at different levels (community, district, national and international level) including Governments, law enforcement officials, judges, social workers, teachers, doctors, ombudspersons, civil society, internet service providers, faith leaders, etc.

Make recommendations as to how to develop and strengthen effective child-friendly violence counseling, referral and reporting mechanisms, respecting the rights of the child and offering children the necessary protection (including the protection of their privacy, and avoiding the risk of re-victimization and reprisals) independently of the setting where violence occurs (home and family, educational, care and detention settings, the workplace and the community).  

View full expert consultation agenda and list of participants

Expert consultation: Background documents

  1. HRC Resolution 13/20 "Rights of the child: the fight against sexual violence against children" (PDF) 
  2. Extracts from World report on Violence against Children (PDF)
  3. Annual Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children A/65/262 (PDF)
  4. Ombudswork for children, Innocenti Research Centre
  5. Reform and the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Innocenti Research Centre
  6. Independent Institutions Protecting Children's Rights, Innocenti Research Centre 
  7. A common responsibility - The role of community based child protection groups in protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation, Save the Children (PDF)
  8. What are we learning about protecting children in the community?, An inter-agency review of evidence on community-based child protection mechanisms, USAID, OAK Foundation, World Vision, UNICEF, Save the Children:
  9. Listening learning acting (PDF)
  10. Silent Suffering, Plan International (PDF)

Replies from National Human Rights Institutions

Presentations

Contributions