Address by Minister Hanna at UN Cross Regional Meeting for Advancing the Protection of Children from Violence
At this moment, in every country, children are enduring the horrific impact of violence. Children who live in upscale neighbourhoods in North American or European countries suffer just as much as those children who live in their inner-cities. Equally, they suffer just as much as those children living in towns and villages in the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Both boys and girls are affected; and there is also no distinction among race, ethnic origin, education and family income. In short: violence affects children everywhere.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the awful and inescapable truth is that the absolute horror and devastating effects on children are on many levels. For some countries while we grapple with the dreadful acts perpetrated at a local level, in many other parts of the world the gruesome acts of violence against our children are horrendous.
Almost on a nightly basis our global news network shows us in graphic detail, the ugly truth that there is always a war or armed conflict taking place somewhere in the world. And as one is over another begins.
But what is often overlooked is the devastating impact these disastrous events have on children.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sure you have seen as I have the pictures and videos of young boys with weapons and ammunition slung across shoulders so slender and frail they buckle under the pressure. Their eyes sometimes are either so narrow and cold and hard from memories no child should have of appalling deeds they have either witnessed, experienced, or done. Sometimes their eyes are so huge and round with fear. Fear of the unknown – not knowing whether they will ever survive, or ever see their families again. But the lasting image I take away from these news clips is the pain I see etched in their young faces caused by injuries, hunger and incredible suffering.
It’s estimated that the world has lost approximately 2 million children in wars and armed conflicts in the last decade, with 250,000 forced to bear arms with thousands more killed or maimed. Another 1 million have been orphaned.
It is fair to say that for those of us for whom this not our reality, this level of violence and its awesome impact seems so far removed. We empathise and collectively we condemn but it’s not our war. We can do nothing so we do nothing.
But what’s worse is that in OUR reality there is — in every region of the world — tacit and also explicit approval of violence against OUR children. Our societies still condone acts of violence — calling them traditional discipline, domestic violence.
The fact is Ladies and Gentlemen, that the adjective before the verb may change but the horror of violence remains the same…READ MORE