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UNICEF Launches New Program to End Violence Against Children

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 31 2013 (IPS) - The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Wednesday  launched a new initiative to curb violence against children around the world.

The End Violence Against Children initiative urges global citizens to make the invisible visible, and speak out against child violence at local and national levels. UNICEF is encouraging people to form new ideas and ways to combat violence against children.

The UNICEF initiative was born out of public outrage over highly-publicized cases that have involved the maiming and killing of children, including the shooting of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who was then 14-years-old, by the Taliban as she was walking to school and the gang rapes of young girls in India and South Africa this year.

“In every country, in every culture, there is violence against children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement  released  here. “Whenever and wherever children are harmed, our outrage and anger must be seen and heard. We must make the invisible visible.”

Liam Neeson, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, helped to launch the initiative by featuring in a video showing various scenes of invisible violence against children. The camera pans from a peaceful bedroom illuminated by the light of a computer on which a child has been cyber-bullied, to a dark and dirty street where a child sleeps or is sexually abused.

“Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it’s not there,” Neeson says in the video.

Violence often occurs in areas meant to be the safest for children, at home and in school. The December 2012 shooting of 26 primary school children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is one of the horrific events the new initiative is responding too.

There were at least 3,600 documented attacks against students, teachers and schools last year, according to UNICEF statistics. And with 41 percent of all homicides occurring to people aged 10-29 years old, UNICEF says, violence against children is a persistent problem.

The recent arrests of pimps and their associates in what is the largest trafficking crackdown in U.S. history also reveals the continued threat of sexual violence against children. 105 trafficking victims, aged 13-17 years old, were rescued. Worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Cyber-bullying is a relatively new form of abuse, and one that will continue to grow with the prevalence of mobile technology. According to DoSomething.org, a U.S.-based non-profit for youth and global change, 43 percent of children have been bullied online, with a quarter of them saying it has happened at least once.

UNICEF also points out that abuse and violence against children isn’t always physical, but includes insults, isolation, threats and rejection.

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