In every country, in every culture, there is violence against children — some of them as young as 1 year old.
Violence against children is pervasive and not only inflicts physical wounds but also leaves children with mental scars. UNICEF is calling for governments to take urgent action, including educating children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognize violence in all its many forms and empowering them to speak out and report it. Ending violence is everyone’s responsibility.
In Zimbabwe, government efforts to improve services for children affected by violence include grassroots movements and national plans and policy initiatives. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra (centre) meets with adolescents at the AFRICAID support centre in Harare during a recent mission.
Africaid interventions include support for community-based, adolescent-led services to help HIV-positive children and survivors of sexual violence and abuse cope with the stigma and discrimination they face. Ms. Chopra (right) comforts a youth living with HIV (left) at the support centre.
Community Childcare Workers (CCWs) — all trained volunteers — are also an important part of the nation’s case management system to respond to children’s protection needs. Goodwill Ambassador Chopra (right) accompanies a community childcare worker in Epworth during an outreach home visit.
The ‘eyes and ears’ for social workers in communities, these passionate men and women are committed to identifying and helping at-risk children access appropriate welfare, protection, legal and psychosocial services. Sarah Sitole (seated), caring for her two grandchildren, has received CCW support.
In support of the Government, UNICEF has helped to identify and train more than 9,630 community child care workers. Thomas, 14, one of Ms. Sitole’s two grandchildren, shares his music with Goodwill Ambassador Chopra (right) during the CCW outreach visit to the family’s home.
Community-based protection services and interventions are also offered at Government-supported centres. In Epworth, Goodwill Ambassador Chopra (right) meets with a boy at the drop-in centre run by Childline, the country’s 24-hour service for children who have been abused, violated or exploited.
Childline Zimbabwe also runs a 24-hour helpline that provides counselling and supportive services for children who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused. A counsellor at the Harare 24-hour Childline call centre gives Ms. Chopra (left) an overview of the 24-hour helpline.
Effective systems to prevent and respond to violence are improving services for victims of violence. (Centre) Goodwill Ambassador Chopra meets with officers at a child-friendly magistrates court, where children testify in private — via a video link — instead of in intimidating courtrooms.
Anatomically correct dolls help children too young to know what happened to them tell about their abuse. We have the know-how and the tools to end violence against children. But, it will require individual and collective action, at every level, to protect them and right this global wrong.