“The only way to stop violence, abuse and exploitation of children is to break the the silence”

In conjunction with the International Day of Non-Violence on October 2, Childhood’s founder, Queen Silvia of Sweden, held a speech at the UN headquarters in New York. The aim of the UN meeting, which was arranged by Childhood USA and Swedish UN representatives, was to highlight what governments, companies, society and individuals can do to put the UN Sustainable Development Goals into practice. The Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015 and are to be achieved by 2030, represent the most important commitment to the children of the world since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Also featured as speakers at the meeting were Childhood’s Secretary General, Paula Guillet de Monthoux, and several of our project partners, including Netclean (a Swedish company specializing in the development of technological solutions for detecting, tracking and reporting online images depicting child abuse) and Seven Passes (an initiative based in a village in South Africa that offers parental support programs aimed at promoting more loving, positive and consistent parenting, thereby reducing the risk of violence against children).


“The only way to stop violence, abuse and exploitation of children is to break the silence and to work together across sectors, engaging the health and education sectors, governments, civil society and the private sector. Each one of us can and should be part of the solution,” said Queen Silvia in her speech. Read Queen Silvia’s speech here.

Violence against children: Three of four children in the world are victims – but the violence can be prevented

During the meeting, the Know Violence in Childhood initiative also presented its report “Ending Violence in Childhood”, which was compiled by a global team of 100 researchers and experts over a period of three years. The facts presented in report, which contains the latest findings concerning violence against children, are sobering: three of four children in the world, nearly 1.7 billion children, are victims of violence – every year. Violence against children is also closely linked to violence against women, since children who witness violence against their mothers are often victims themselves, or grow up to be violent as adults.

Hope for the future

However, the report is also hopeful: violence against children can be stopped! The responsibility for ending violence against children largely rests with the world’s national governments and legislative parliaments, civil society, authorities and schools. But you and I play no less important a role: We adults must break the silence, we must dare to talk about violence against children and, most importantly, we must talk with children – not only our own. Ask that simple question: “How are you?” This can be all it takes: many children who are victims of violence and abuse later say that never told anyone – because no one asked. A trustworthy, loving adult – a mother, father, grandmother, teacher, neighbor or coach – who a child can rely on can make all the difference when abuse has taken place. After all, we know that many children who have been abused, but still fared well, have this in common. Someone was there.

Men rapporten är också hoppfull: Våld mot barn går att förhindra! Ett stort ansvar för att detta sker vilar på världens regeringar och lagstiftande parlament, civilsamhället, myndigheter och skolor. Men du och jag spelar en minst lika viktig roll: Vi vuxna måste bryta tystnaden, våga prata om våld mot barn och framför allt, prata med barnen – och inte bara våra egna. Ställ den där lilla frågan “Hur mår du?” Det kan vara den utlösande faktorn: Många barn som utsatts för våld och övergrepp har i efterhand sagt att de inte berättade – för att ingen frågade. En trygg kärleksfull vuxen – en mamma, pappa, mormor, lärare, granne, tränare – som barnet kan lita på kan även vara hela skillnaden när ett övergrepp har skett, för vi vet att många barn som har utsatts, men ändå klarat sig bra, har just det gemensamt. Att det fanns någon.

The full “Ending Violence in Childhood” report is available here.


Text: Åsa Andreasson Åkerström