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