Rachael Harvey, the Chief, Child Protection, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has said that six out of 10 children would suffer one form of violence before they reached the age of 18.
Harvey made this known on Wednesday at a two-day workshop organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) in collaboration with UNICEF in Lagos.
“The Violence Against Children (VAC) survey shows a huge prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria – emotional, physical and sexual.
“Six of 10 children will suffer one form of violence before they reach the age of 18, while one in two suffers physical violence- intentional burning, kicking, whipping and punching.
“Also, one in four girls and one in 10 boys suffer sexual violence, and one in five boys and one in six girls suffer emotional violence,” she said.
Harvey said that the major challenge in VAC was that children were suffering in silence.
According to her, very few children ever speak out about what is happening to them.
“Even when they speak out, they do not try to access services. Less than five per cent of children ever receive support.
“Adults are much more likely to perpetuate violence when they are adults,” Harvey said.
She said that it would require everyone including the government, Non-government Organisations (NGOs), communities, parents and the media to take a stand to prevent and respond to VAC.
“We have to have communities that do not tolerate violence and if violence happens, we need to speak out.
“We need services that are available and responsive, and when children come to them, they will get the services they need to help them,” she said.
Also speaking, the Director, Child Development, WAPA, Mrs Alaba Fadawo, said that the ministry had put in place many strategies to curb VAC.
Fadawo said, “There is an ongoing aggressive campaign.
“The other thing is intervention and rescue where children are abused and persecution of perpetrators of abuses.
“Apart from that, there is a team in place, a Sexual Violence Response Team, which is a network of stakeholders working with children to ensure that violence is minimised,” she said.
She said that the ministry had issued Yellow Cards, which, according to her, were warning cards.
“In the yellow cards, there are help lines where we can be reached.
“Within the communities, the cards are distributed to people so that as soon as a child is being violated, people can call the help line.
“Such child will be rescued and the perpetrators will be handled legally,” Fadawo said.