Why are developed countries lagging behind in the commitment to end violence against children?
Violence takes place daily in homes and schools, and in our neighbourhoods. Gun violence is on the extreme end of the spectrum of violence that children are exposed to. Bullying, corporal punishment, neglect and gang violence all have negative long-term consequences. According to a 2017 report by Know Violence, 1.7 billion children worldwide experience some form of violence each year. Violence against children bears massive economic costs. Economists at the Copenhagen Consensus believe violence against children costs 4.3% of global GDP annually; others believe the number is much higher.
Fifteen countries have joined the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children as Pathfinding countries. These countries have committed themselves to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16.2, ‘to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children’. These countries have acknowledged the importance of combatting violence against children and are prepared to have their efforts measured and reported on. Only one of the current Pathfinding countries is a developed economy – Sweden. Even though the United Kingdom participated in the summit it hasn’t committed to being a Pathfinding country. Nor has the United States, or any other country in the European Union, other than Romania.
Is this because it is more comfortable for developed countries to present violence against children as a problem for countries other than their own? Is it because policymakers in the developed world don’t understand the seriousness of the problem in their own communities? Is it because developed countries prefer to be seen as benefactors rather than having the problem themselves?