Building a Europe for and with children

Family violence


Traditionally the family is considered a safe haven for children - a fertile environment where they can develop emotionally and intellectually, and form a positive image of themselves and the world at large. But when parents, or those close to the family circle, become perpetrators of violence, whether psychological, sexual or physical, then the family can and does inflict great harm on children.

Children lose trust in those they need and become anxious. Their adult lives can be characterised by a lack of personal achievement  and frequent illness, and they have a much greater chance of being violent with their own children. Even if they are not direct victims of violence themselves, seeing violence against others also has serious negative consequences.

Surveys from around the world indicate that family violence is widespread in all of the world's regions. The United Nations reports that in 21 mainly high- and middle-income countries, as many as 36% of females and  29% of males said they were sexually abused in childhood.

We cannot pick and choose where to apply human rights, and the family sphere, long considered private, is no exception. Governments are responsible for adopting measures to ensure that "parents, legal guardians, and others do not violate children's rights" and putting into place structures with reporting mechanisms and referrals. 
(For more information see:  the UN World report on violence against children).

For information on violence that can take place in the family setting, see:
Corporal punishment
Sexual abuse

See also:
Council of Europe campaign  "Stop domestic violence against women"
Forum on "What it means to grow up in a violent home "