Each year, at least 55 million children in Europe suffer some form of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological violence, the UN health agency (WHO) said.
And despite the magnitude of this figure, “it is well established that incidents of interpersonal violence are widely underreported”, according to the World Health Organization’s European Region office.
Accounting for underreporting, WHO estimates that of the 204 million children under the age of 18 across the region, 9.6 percent experience sexual exploitation, 22.9 percent physical abuse and 29.1 percent emotional harm. Moreover, 700 are murdered every year.
“The cost of violence against children adds up”, WHO maintained, highlighting that an estimated $581 billion is spent annually on treating victims.“But the financial cost pales in comparison to the toll on individuals’ health”, said the agency.
Studies reveal that children who experience violence are at higher risk of mental illness, drug use, alcohol use and obesity, but also for chronic disease later in life.
Governments are showing an increased appetite to tackle the scourge. Overall, the political will to combat violence against children has risen, with 66 percent of regional countries having prohibited corporal punishment in all settings.
However, passing laws is only part of the solution.
While 83 percent of countries in the region have developed a national action plan to stop child maltreatment, fewer than half are being sufficiently funded.
WHO Europe’s INSPIRE package is an evidence-based resource that supports countries committed to preventing and addressing assaults against children by identifying seven successful strategies to reduce levels of violence.
Ending “abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children” is also part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Original source: UN News
Published on 14 January 2019