This report presents the findings of the Thematic Group on Violence against Disabled Children, convened by UNICEF at UN Headquarters in New York on July 28, 2005 and
charged with the task of providing comments and recommendations on violence against disabled children to be made available for the UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence against Children.
Children who live with a physical, sensory, intellectual or mental health disability are among the most stigmatised and marginalised of all the world’s children. While all children are at risk of being victims of violence, disabled children find themselves at significantly increased risk because of stigma, negative traditional beliefs and ignorance. Lack of social support, limited opportunities for education, employment or participation in the community further isolates disabled children and their families, leading to increased levels of stress and hardship. Disabled children are also often targeted by abusers, who see them as easy victims.
This report presents the findings of the Thematic Group on Violence against Disabled Children, convened by UNICEF at UN Headquarters in New York on 28 July 2005 and charged with the task of providing comments and recommendations on violence against disabled children to be made available for the UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence against Children. In this report, key issues on violence against children with disabilities will be reviewed. Some of the issues raised will be familiar to those who work on violence against children. Other issues will be disability-specific and even experts and advocates on violence against children may be unfamiliar with them or have not thought deeply about the implications that such practices have in relation to violence against and abuse of disabled children.
It is important to note that the factors that place disabled children at increased risk for abuse are often related to social, cultural and economic issues, and not to the actual disability itself. As such, interventions that address violence and abuse against disabled children can and should be effective if implemented with concern and resolve.
It should be noted at the outset that:
• The number of children and adolescents with disability are significant. While calculations vary depending on the specific definition of disability, using the World Health Organization’s definition of individuals with a disability as individuals having a physical, sensory (deafness, blindness), intellectual or mental health impairment, some 200 million children - 10 per cent of the world’s young people – are born with a disability or become disabled before age 19.• Disabled children must be included in all programs intended to end violence towards and abuse of children. Disabled children cannot wait until issues of violence and abuse are fully addressed in non-disabled children. The reasons for this are two-fold: 1) the lives of disabled children are no less valuable than the lives of all other children and the short- and long-term consequences of violence and abuse for them are no less severe; and 2) violence against children as a global problem will not be solved unless violence against the world’s million of disabled children is included as part of the overall solution. Nor will any of the Millennium Development goals be met unless this large and most marginalized group of children are fully included and addressed. As Article 23 in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states, children with disabilities have the right to ‘enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilities the child’s active participation in the community.
This paper will begin by providing an overview of violence against disabled children, followed by an enumeration of issues of violence against disabled children in specific settings. A series of recommendations from the Thematic Group meeting will follow, identifying how violence against disabled children can best be addressed both as part of general violence intervention efforts and, where needed, through disability-specific interventions. (Footnote A)
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Organisation Contact Details:
UN Secretary General's Study on Violence Against Children - Secretariat
Last updated 14/02/2006 11:22:11