Last week, the Government of Nigeria released the findings of the National Survey on Violence Against Children – the first survey of its kind in Nigeria.
The Government is not only to be congratulated for undertaking this groundbreaking survey, but also for making the findings widely known, shining a spotlight on what the survey shows is a significant problem in Nigeria.
The survey found that violence impacts millions of children’s lives every year across Nigeria. You cannot help but be shocked by the huge numbers of children experiencing violence. But sometimes we can get lost in the statistics. Let’s remember that each statistic represents an individual child suffering violence – a four year old boy being intentionally burnt for misbehaving, a 13 year old girl being repeatedly raped by her neighbour, a 7 year old being told again and again – “you are worthless, I wish you were dead” by their own mother.
Also, when many people think of physical, sexual and emotional violence against children, they think of it as happening to someone else, to someone’s else’s family and in someone else’s community. But the Survey findings are clear – violence against children is a problem that transcends social and economic status. It impacts rich and poor, urban and rural, educated and out of school children. The findings of the survey highlight that violence is not confined to poor families, nor to marginalised children or children living in the shadow of conflict.
Violence against children is not somebody else’s problem, it is everyone’s problem.
Today, the Government of Nigeria, at the highest level, is committing to take action to end violence against children. The President is to be congratulated on this highly significant commitment. However, the launch Year of Action to End Violence Against Children not only recognizes the fundamental role that the Government at Federal and State level has to play in preventing and responding to violence, but the critical role that all Nigerians have in ending violence against children.
UNICEF has been proud to support the Government in undertaking the national survey and is enthusiastically supporting the Year of Action to End Violence Against Children. UNICEF renews its commitment to support Nigeria to implement the Priority Actions during the coming year and beyond.
When we leave the venue today, I hope that each and every one of us - government, non-government organisations, religious and traditional leaders, UN agencies and development partners, the media, as well as communities, families and children - will leave with absolute commitment and energy to take action to ensure that all children in Nigeria can grow up free from violence.
It’s time to take action!
Together, let’s end violence against children