Childhood is supposed to be the happiest period in one’s life, when everything is fresh and full of promise and possibilities.
But that is not true for millions of young people around the world who feel unsafe in their homes, schools and communities.
According the British branch of the United Nations children’s agency Unicef, a child is killed by violence every five minutes, and most of these deaths occur outside war zones, BBC News reports.
In its report Children in Danger: Act to End Violence against Children, Unicef UK said violence has become a global epidemic.
“This epidemic has had a catastrophic impact on child survival and wellbeing, and has left millions of children living in fear every day. Children in every country are threatened by violence, yet the poorest and most marginalized children face the greatest risks and are least likely to be protected by their societies,” it said.
The agency warns that about 345 children under 20 could die from violence each day in the next year unless governments around the world take action.
Rapid urbanization, youth unemployment and rising inequality are some of the major factors that increase the risks for children.
Children who are victims of violence have brain activity similar to that of soldiers exposed to combat and more than 30 percent of them are likely to develop long-lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report.
Violence also has direct economic impact on children. In the United States, abused children are twice as likely to be unemployed later in life. They are also 60 percent more likely to be living in poverty.
In Brazil, youth violence is estimated to cost nearly 12 billion pounds (US$19.4 billion) every year.
A study funded by the UK government estimated that the total cost of domestic violence — including the cost of services, loss of employment, and emotional costs — was almost 16 billion pounds in 2008.
At the global level, violence against children is estimated to cost around 2 trillion pounds, destroying more than 4 percent of global GDP, the report said.
“We want children living in fear to have a chance of feeling safe and secure,” Unicef UK’s executive director David Bull said.
“A global target would galvanize action to make the world safer for children.”
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