Member organizations of the ChildFund Alliance believe a focus on child protection can foster a global mindset that prioritizes and protects children. To this end, we are working hard to ensure that child protection appears among the global priorities that will follow the Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty worldwide.
The children on whose behalf we are acting, it turns out, have much to add to the conversation. This year, the ChildFund Alliance held 50 focus groups of more than 1,300 children from 41 of the 58 countries where Alliance member organizations, including ChildFund International, serve children. The subject was their experiences of violence and exploitation and what it means to be free of those.
In fact, the first question we asked children was, “What makes you feel free?”
A 15-year-old girl in Bolivia answered, “I feel free when I reach my dreams and the elders don’t tell me to shut my mouth.”
The rest of the questions largely built on the first: What makes you feel free from violence and exploitation? To take action to stop them? What can world leaders and adults do? What are the risks to you?
The children made it clear that they want to be heard. Too many of them experience violence and exploitation that children should never have to — the most often-cited forms were sexual violence, exploitative labor conditions and physical and humiliating punishment. They know such treatment is not right, and they often feel powerless against it, even in school, where sexual harassment and corporal punishment are everyday occurrences in many communities. It seems counter-intuitive that children also cite access to education as a primary key to their keeping safe from violence and exploitation. “If I were president, I would build a very nice school in every village,” says a 12-year-old Laotian boy.
Children have ideas about how the situation might be improved, and they are clear that they want a role in that change.
First, they know their rights, and they want to see them fulfilled. In the focus groups, they stated their wishes for their parents and government leaders to enter into dialog with them. They want legislators to raise awareness around the issues of violence and exploitation, to create and enforce legislation that protects children and to provide support at both local and global levels.
“I don’t understand why we are treated inhumanely and not considered citizens,” says one girl, 13, from Nepal.
A 15-year-old boy from Liberia says it another way: “Overlooking me is violence.”
Please stand with us, and with children. Take action here and sign the ChildFund Alliance’s Free From Violence and Exploitation petition to make child protection a global priority.
Join us in letting governments and the U.N. know that we believe child protection is key to ending poverty. Help us present thousands of names to world leaders, at the U.N. and beyond. Help us show our own government how many of us care about protecting children. (Please know that ChildFund will neither share your information with any third party nor use it for any other purpose.)
Here’s why ChildFund believes child protection is integral to ending poverty:
Worldwide, almost half of all children experience some form of physical violence before age 8.For a child struggling to move beyond poverty, a single act of violence can wipe away all her fragile progress in seconds.
About 115 million children around the globe are involved in hazardous work.Exploitative child labor traps children in dangerous situations and interrupts their educations, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
More than 200 million children — girls
andboys — are subject to sexual abuse.Sexual abuse breaks spirits, especially children’s. Member organizations of the ChildFund Alliance believe a focus on child protection can foster a global mindset that prioritizes and protects children. If children grow up in an environment where that is true, they will value their own children the same way.
Adding your voice takes just seconds. The most life-changing acts often do.
Please also take a moment to invite your friends, colleagues and family members to sign the petition as well. Help us send the message loud and clear.
And thank you — so much — for caring enough about children to do so.