Ending Violence Against Children and Adolescents with Disabilities
Brief summary of presentation of information made
Brief summary: the speakers on the panel all made the point that violence against children and adolescents with disabilities is unacceptable and that more must be done by all areas of society – civil, government, agencies, etc. – to end it. In addition, the broader point was made that achieving this aim will help to unlock wider sustainable development aims.
Joost Kooijmans, Senior Advisor on Child Labour, UNICEF: made opening remarks and acted as moderator.
H.E. Juan Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, Mexico
- Mexico pleased to sponsor event – mention made of 2014 signing of Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Issue is top of human rights agenda in country. With New Zealand, Mexico chaired a resolution on this topic. They are also a pathfinder country on ending violence against children.
- Bullying is unacceptable. ‘It is possible to have a life without it.’ The idea that bullying teaches children a lesson about the harsh ‘real world’ is wrong. It is possible to stigmatise bullying. It does not ‘make boys men’, it is avoidable. Bullying towards children with disabilities is ‘absolutely unacceptable’.
- Work done by countries and by UN to end bullying must be recognised but it is also not enough. SDG 16.2 calls on member states to end violence against children. Thirteen years is not a long time. Use must be made of social media and other tools to help achieve aim. Target has implications for all goals - health, education, equality.
- Solving this issue is not just the responsibility of governments, stakeholders (i.e. citizens) must be involved too. ‘Let’s create a culture against bullying.’ We must not shy away from names - we must report and call out sexual abuse, rape. ‘Children are not small adults’ - child-sensitive and gender-sensitive responses are required. Need to invest in education and preventative actions to try to solve problem. Speaker emphasised commitment to ‘leave no-one behind’. Urged societies to emphasise that world without bullying is possible.
Mihaela Ivanova, Self-advocate, Lumos Bulgaria
- Works as self-advocate in Bulgaria. Understands role as an advocate to protect rights of all children in world, especially those who have disabilities. Every child with a disability suffers in a way - with violence.
- Speaker shared experience of not being made welcome at nursery and of being side-lined and told she was an obstacle – she described this as violence. Witnessed other children being bullied in a similar manner.
- Specialists must be trained to understand every child in their care. When you are heard, understood, supported, your rights are respected - adults do not decide instead of you.
- Shared experiences of Bulgaria - homes being closed, children having to live in foster families, or be adopted or small group homes. Over 8 million children each day experience violence and cannot protect themselves - they need our support.
- International Youth Group of Self-Advocates meet and discuss how to achieve main goal of no more institutions as soon as possible. ‘Biggest violence against everybody is when you are invisible, excluded, isolated.’ Proposals: to include children and young people wherever they are to participate in decisions on how to end violence against them and their peers; politicians must listen to children with disabilities because these children still do not have equal rights to their peers. ‘There is no alternative childhood.’
Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF
- Speaker made point that safety and security of children is not just in SDG 16.2, but across the agenda: 8.7, sexual violence, abuse, neglect, trafficking, FGM, etc.
- Global Partnership to End Violence against Children has three goals: to build and sustain political will; to accelerate action; to strengthen collaboration.
- ‘INSPIRE’ – a package of seven strategies for ending violence against children, developed by the World Health Organisation. The strategies are: implementation and enforcement of laws; norms and values; safe environments; parent and caregiver support; income and economic strengthening; response and support services; and education and life skills.
- Path-finding countries (13, in talks with 10) are early adopters of Agenda 2030 with a high political will to achieve them. Each pathfinding country takes INSPIRE and uses the programme to help implement the SDGS. Example of Tanzania: push to end violence against children, plan of action to amend laws to make legal system robust in protecting children, also to put focus on prevention (norms/values, focus on empowering women, positive parenting, supporting most vulnerable).
Sabarullah Khan, Deputy High Commissioner, Sri Lanka
- Everybody has disabilities - some physical or mental disability. Children are vulnerable, disabled are vulnerable - so children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable.
- Sri Lanka has a revamped national plan - access to schools, voting rights, water, places of worship, employment. Aim to be a disability-inclusive city by enhancing awareness, by keeping children with disabilities in mind when creating laws.
- Convention on human rights have changed how the world views children - unprecedented global impact. ‘Put children on a par with all people.’ Violence against children is a breach of human rights. Children with disabilities are a higher risk of experiencing this risk.
- Sri Lanka is committed to providing a nurturing environment for their children.
Kathryn Leslie, Child Protection Specialist, UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children
- Examples given of different countries’ responses. Norway uses Measure 21. Ireland has Irish National plan – including school-based diversity with both teachers and students involved.
- Many child protection groups are being set up to help teach children their rights.
- Data collection and research are important to inform services and mechanisms and vital in decision-making and measuring progress.
Lisbet Briquela, Director, Disability Rights International, Mexico
- Organisation works with people with disabilities living in various institutions - hospitals, children’s homes etc. - especially children.
- Example given of abusive home where children with disabilities were unfairly treated. Children were re-institutionalised and moved continuously. This shows poor treatment/support for children with disabilities.
DRI’s research shows many families would gladly take back children but do not believe they have correct support. Support should be made more widely available. Cases of abuse should be investigated and prosecuted.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
- The Salvation Army, as both a Christian church and a charity, comes into contact with many children who are disabled and other vulnerable people. We should be keenly aware of the support needed in these situations and the individual responses required.
- Programmes being run could incorporate teaching on the impacts of bullying, and of cyber-bullying (particularly in terms of social media). Educating young people on the effect of their words and actions is an important measure, as well as increasing understanding on what to do when one is the victim of such bullying.
- All forms of bullying should be prevented. Any case of bullying reported or suspected in a Salvation Army programme, at corps, institution or community level should be investigated and action taken to address the problem.
- All cases of abuse must be investigated and action taken in accordance with International and Territorial policies and advice, and lessons learnt.
Web links for more information