Press Release

IACHR Urges States to Eradicate Violence against Children 10 Years after the Publication of the United Nations Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children

March 5, 2016

   Contact info

IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - The Rapporteurship on the Rights of the Child of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the advances achieved in the 10 years since the publication of the United Nations Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children (hereinafter “UN Study on Violence against Children”). The Rapporteurship today urges the States of the region to redouble their efforts to prevent violence against children, and to renew their commitment to comply with the recommendations contained in this study. 

This study represented the first exhaustive and holistic analysis conducted by the United Nations at a global level regarding all forms of violence against children and adolescents. The study was groundbreaking by compiling information regarding the prevalence of the phenomenon and its different manifestations. It is important to highlight that it contributed to giving visibility to a phenomenon regarding which there was scarce information or knowledge, even though it was known. The drafting process also served to greatly sensitize state actors, members of the academic sector, social leaders and children and adolescents regarding the subject matter covered, which has also contributed to pertinent advances in different countries.  

Despite the existence of promising developments in this area, the Rapporteurship highlights the need to continue promoting modifications in the legislation, policies, practices, programs and services to prevent violence and to protect the victims. The violence is present in all spheres of the development of children and adolescents – in the family, school, community, social attention systems, and in the criminal judicial systems. The violence is also socially tolerated, for example, in the name of “discipline” or against determined groups of children and adolescents due to their origin or social condition.   

The IACHR, in its report on Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents in the Americas, found that this form of violence is one of the most extensively used in the continent and has been codified in the norms of several States as a faculty parents have in the raising of their children.   Existing evidence reveals that this kind of violence has harmful and long-lasting effects in the development of children, in their personal integrity and health, contributing to reproduce a culture in which violence is an acceptable means to resolve conflicts or to be imposed on others.  

The IACHR has repeatedly called the attention to the frequent situation of abuses and mistreatment that children and adolescents from specific social conditions and ethnic origins suffer at the hands of State agents in the framework of citizen security interventions. The Commission also calls attention to the alarming levels of violence that adolescents who are deprived of liberty suffer.  In the contexts of insecurity and delinquency, children and adolescents are also victims of situations of abuse, violence and exploitation when they are used by criminal groups for their illicit activities. 

On the other hand, girls and adolescents represent the main victims of sexual violence. Existing figures confirm the alarming and widespread nature of this form of violence in the region. However, the levels of reporting and impunity are still very high. Sexual violence constitutes a gross violation to the personal integrity of the victims, exposing them to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. There is also a stigma surrounding the victims, which are questioned on occasion for their “provocative” actions.  Many of these situations are not reported due to fear, due to the closeness of the aggressor to the victim, and the lack of support for children and adolescents who are victims.  

Recently there has been an increased attention to bullying and violence in the schools, which has propelled the adoption of prevention plans in this setting, as well as the implementation of peaceful resolution and cohabitation mechanisms. These are all positive developments which should be expanded in scope and reach. The violence in this sphere has negative effects in the right to education of the children affected, impeding their learning and increasing their absenteeism and desertion from schools.   

Certain groups of children are more exposed to violence, such as the children in situations of poverty and those who live on the streets, those belonging to ethnic minorities, children with disabilities, and those pertaining to LGBTI communities. In regards to these children, States should intensify their efforts to overcome the conditions of social exclusion and discrimination towards these groups and the violence associated to these circumstances. Likewise, new technologies pose novel challenges in regards to child protection as the use of these technologies is also a way to exercise violence, which is a relatively new area and needs more attention and prevention efforts.

The Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the UN Study on Violence against Children, presents the “High Time Movement to Stop Violence against Children”, which seeks to catalyze, accelerate and expand the advances on violence prevention and responses, calling to action a large range of actors. The IACHR Rapporteurship welcomes and celebrates this initiative, considering it very pertinent for the present moment and in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The Rapporteurship on Children of the IACHR also reaffirms its commitment to continue collaborating with the office of the UN Special Representative. The IACHR Rapporteurship reiterates the message contained in the UN Study that violence against children is never justifiable and that all violence can be prevented. The IACHR Rapporteurship also urges all of the States in the region to adopt legislations which prohibit all forms of violence against children, and to adopt  measures of a judicial, political, administrative, social and cultural nature to promote the prevention of violence and the protection of the victims.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 026/16