KAMPALA – Joining Forces Alliance has said that violence against children has lifelong impacts on their health and their well-being, families, communities, and nations at large.
The remarks by Dragana Strinic, Chair Joining Forces Alliance during the Hands for Good Festival, one of the events within the Hands for Good Campaign on Wednesday.
The campaign is being implemented by Joining Forces organisations in close partnership with the Ministry for Gender, Labour and Social Development.
In 2017, the six largest child-focused global agencies – Child Fund; Plan; Save the Children; SOS Children’s Villages; Terre des Hommes; and World Vision – joined forces to use their collective power to secure child rights and end violence against children.
In Uganda, with support from the European Union, they are using the power of collective voice to call on parents, leaders and communities to end all forms of child violence. The nine-month campaign challenges parents and caregivers to use their #Hands4Good.
Dragana says that violence against children in homes is deep-rooted, widely spread, and rampant.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child is an often-quoted justification for the continued physical violence against children. However, this is far from the truth. The scientific fact is that violence against children can negatively affect cognitive development and result in educational and vocational underachievement. And this is just one of many negative consequences on children.”
According to the 2018 National Violence Against Children Survey, parents or adult relatives were the most common perpetrators of physical violence in childhood.
Reports indicate that 7 in 10 boys and 6 in 10 girls in Uganda have experienced physical violence in their childhood.
Dragana says that unfortunately, children most commonly do not seek help because they think it is their fault or do not even understand that physical violence is a problem.
He noted that over the last nine months, the Hands4Good campaign directly worked with families to end physical violence in their homes.
“The campaign had national media coverage, reaching estimated 2.5 million people through social media. 9,684 children and parents participated in the Parenting Without Violence awareness sessions. One of the most important venues for spreading the messages to children was, of course, schools. The campaign empowered children and parents to understand what violence is and how to work collectively to reduce the levels of physical violence and increase reporting of violence against children.”
Justin, one of the children who attended the sessions, said, “Now, my parents advise me and talk to me with patience. I am able to do better and behave better because of the way they treat me.”
Dragana says all children in Uganda should enjoy such a “loving and supportive” relationship with their parents, with no violence.
“We call for the Government of Uganda to enhance budgeting and implementation of the child protection mechanisms, especially strengthening measures of reporting, justice and law, addressing the cultural and social norms that contribute to the tolerance towards violence and empowering our communities to respond and appreciate violence against children is everyone’s responsibility,” he said.
Joining Forces Consortium notes that ending violence against children is a responsibility not only for the Government but for everyone in the community.
“We need to unite our efforts to act now and with urgency. We need children, parents, teachers, community leaders and all people responsible for children to know that violence is not the only form of discipline and that it has long-term impacts and undermines a child’s potential to thrive, learn, and develop into their full potential.”
The Consortium tasked the members of parliament to make corporal punishment unlawful in Uganda’s homes, just as it is unlawful in schools, noting that it will significantly contribute to achieving children’s rights to protection and healthy development.
Joining Forces appreciated the support of the European Union, and the Government of Uganda, for their continued dedicated efforts to protect children, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, leaders at all levels, and everyone taking a step towards this shared goal of ending violence against children.
About the Joining Forces Coalition
The Joining Forces Coalition is a global alliance of six world’s leading child rights organisations: Child Fund, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, Terre des Hommes and World Vision. The Coalition aims to substantially reduce violence against children by 2030. The members build on years of experience addressing Violence Against Children (VAC) in Ugandan schools and coordinate closely with other key influencers, including Government departments, national NGO networks, teachers’ unions and religious bodies, and complement existing work by development actors at the policy level.
The Joining Forces for Africa is an EU-funded Project implemented by the Coalition. The 3-year project focuses on strengthening of child protection systems and responding to gaps in service delivery and to the need to build resilience within children and their families. The overall goal of the project is that children and adolescents experience reduced levels of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. The project team is striving to achieve this goal through its work in 6 districts- Busia, Bugiri, Wakiso, Kampala, Gulu and Obongi and a countrywide social behavioral change campaign – Hands4Good – against physical violence on children. 248500 children will benefit directly from the project.