Violence kills a child every five minutes

Updated: 2014-10-21 09:11


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LONDON - One child dies every five minutes as a result of violence, but only a minority die in war zones, according to a report by the UN children's agency UNICEF.

About 75 percent of the estimated 345 violent deaths that occur daily happen in countries at peace, the report said.

"We are uncovering the fact that children experience extreme violence in everyday life, everywhere," Susan Bissell, global head of child protection for UNICEF said.

In some countries, deaths from violence are rolling back gains made in preventing childhood deaths from disease or hunger.

"What is shocking is that we have for two or three decades focused a lot, and importantly, on child mortality from preventable diseases, and what this report says is that we need to be thinking about child mortality from all causes," Bissell said.

"And it's shocking to imagine that we might not achieve our goals in terms of child survival if we don't address the protection of children. These go hand in hand," she added.

In Brazil, the number of children dying from preventable disease before the age of five has dropped since 2000, but almost 15,000 lives have been lost to violence in adolescence, said Leah Kreitzman, head of campaigns and advocacy for UNICEF UK.

Millions of children are vulnerable to physical, sexual and emotional abuse in their homes, schools and communities.

"If you scratch beneath the surface, the statistics around things like sexual violence, violent discipline in the home and the school, all of these things make it very difficult for children to develop," Kreitzman said.

"Children are getting their mental and physical health permanently damaged by violence every day," she added.

But many families do not bother going to the authorities because they know they will not get help, Kreitzman said.

In Kenya, one in three girls and one in six boys experience sexual violence. But just 1 percent of cases of sexual abuse are recorded by the police.

"If people know that they can act with impunity then they can continue being violent to children," she said.

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