Officially, there are over one billion reasons to come together to end violence against children. Over half of the world’s children are affected by violence, and every one of these more than one billion children deserves a life where they can thrive and reach their full potential.

Violence against children includes abuse, exploitation, forced labor, child marriage, and more. It is an effect of conflict (including association with armed groups) and harmful traditional practices, among other things. The World Vision advocacy community has done much to address these things, including advocating for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Girls Count Act, and supporting federal funding for grants to fight child labor (ILAB). Even bills such as the Water for the World Act – bills that seem unrelated, can help to reduce violence. When a child does not have to walk a long distance for water, they are less vulnerable to predators, including human traffickers. All of your actions come together in some way to protect children.

But, this is the thing – if the U.S. continued its currently effective strategies, and enhanced work so that child marriage, child trafficking, and child labor were eliminated, there would still be more than 800 million children affected by violence each year.

  • 152 million children are involved in labor, including 73 million children in hazardous work.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 4.3 million child victims of human trafficking or forced labor.
  • Almost one in five of all homicide victims worldwide in 2012 were children.
  • More than one in three women in the developing world marry before their 18th birthday – that’s 750 million of the women who are alive today.
  • About one in 10 girls have been subjected to forced sexual acts before age 20.
  • More than 130 million girls and women aged 15–49 have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) or cutting, usually by the onset of puberty.

Violence is often not one incident, but a long-term effect on neurological development and physical growth, even affecting a child’s immune system functioning – a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being and development are impacted. The artifacts of violence often include the inability to attend school, chronic health conditions, young girls being pregnant before their bodies are ready – jeopardizing themselves and their child, and the fostering of more violence, including within conflict situations. The global economic impact of violence against children is estimated to be eight percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

The world must do more than only address the most visible forms of violence against children – we need to go further. Today is the first day of the 115th Congress. There are currently no initiatives to act on or bills to cosponsor, but there is passion we can ignite. Among other things this year, we will come together as one voice to ask Congress to initiate a comprehensive plan that aligns the United States work with Global Goal 16 which includes, ‘End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children by 2030.’ With you, we believe we can do it!

Contact your members of Congress.

Photo: © World Vision

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