Children in Extreme Poverty and victims of violence are at a double disadvantage

New York, 9 February 2011 - Extreme poverty and violence against children were centre stage in a panel discussion held during the 49th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development and the UNICEF Executive Board meeting.

The event was co-organized by UNICEF, the SRSG on Violence against Children, ATD Fourth World, with the support of the Government of Bangladesh and counted on the participation of a youth representative of the Tapori children’s movement.

“Social exclusion and extreme poverty offer fertile ground for violence against children and enhance the risk of abuse and exploitation”, highlighted Marta Santos Pais recalling that every year between 500 million and 1,5 billion children are believed to suffer violence in schools, institutions and also within the home.

“Children growing up in extreme poverty are at risk of a double disadvantage - they are less likely to access social services and those available to them are of low quality. As a result, they endure a never ending cycle of deprivation, neglect and exclusion”, said the SRSG.

Dr. Susan Bissell, Chief Child Protection, UNICEF, recognized the importance of an equity approach towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals starting in early childhood:  “there are millions of children under the age of 5 right now who don’t have a birth certificate. If they are on the streets they can easily fall prey to various forms of abuse, violence and exploitation and nobody would even know”.

The panel discussion ended with a message of hope from the SRSG on Violence against Children: “freedom from fear and freedom from want is critical for children too and with the involvement of the most concerned, the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and violence can be broken”.