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Violence against children

There are a number of definitions of violence used depending on the focus and approach taken to it. For example, whether it is defined for legal, medical, sociological purposes. The UN Study on Violence Against Children (2006) definition of violence draws on Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse” as well as the definition used by WHO in the World Report on Violence and Health (2002): “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a child, by an individual or group, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity."

Violence can be committed by individuals or by the State as well as groups and organisations through their members and their policies. It results not only in fear of/ or actual injury but also in fundamental interference with personal freedom.

Self directed violence: suicide and self mutilation.

Interpersonal violence: All forms of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, neglect and exploitation including domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence.

Collective violence: State violence is one of the primary forms of collective violence and is understood as violence committed, condoned or allowed by the State and its representatives. It includes violence by the armed forces, law enforcement officers and security forces of all kinds but also violence committed by any other State agent. State violence against children include the use of the death penalty and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment including Torture, forced displacement, unlawful imprisonment, extra-judicial killings and executions, enforced disappearances, all forms of violence against children living under the care of the State including children living in institutions and children in detention and penal facilities among other examples. Other forms of collective violence would include violence resulting from internal and international armed conflicts, terrorism, organised crime, but also collective forms of violence targeting specific groups of people such as child infanticide, honour killings, gang violence etc.

Corporal or physical punishment: This includes hitting the child with the hand or with an object (such as a cane, belt, whip, shoe, etc); kicking, shaking, or throwing the child, pinching or pulling their hair; forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable or undignified positions, or to take excessive physical exercise; and burning or scarring the child.

Humiliating or Degrading Punishment: This takes various forms such as psychological punishment, verbal abuse, ridicule, isolation, and ignoring the child.

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