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UN: Rates Of Child Abuse High in East Asia and the Pacific

The United Nations Child’s Fund (UNICEF) report, titled ‘Child Maltreatment: Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences in East Asia and Pacific’, details the past decade of reports on child maltreatment in the region.

According to Amalee McCoy, UNICEF’s Regional Child Protection Specialist, “Child maltreatment has harmful long-term consequences, not only for the children suffering the abuse, but also for the families and societies in which they live.”

The report reveals that one in 10 children experience physical abuse, with the worst case scenarios in some countries finding that 30.3 per cent of children suffer from abuse.

Severe physical abuse includes beatings which result in physical injury.

The report also found that between 14 and 30 per cent of the region’s boys and girls report experiencing forced sex, and for many young people their first experiences of sexual intercourse is forced.

“We need to strengthen national child protection systems to protect children who are already experiencing harm, and to create environments where abuse is prevented and the risks of violence to children are mitigated,” Ms. McCoy said.

In its report, UNICEF notes that the damage to children caused by sexual and physical abuse is often very serious and last through the child’s life.

The report also found that children who are abused, neglected, exploited or experience violence are more likely to be depressed and experience other types of mental health problems, to think about or attempt suicide, to have more physical symptoms – both medically explained and unexplained – and to engage in more high-risk behaviours than their non-abused counterparts.

All ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Many have also ratified the Optional Protocols.

Because of this, all governments as well as ASEAN are expected to come up with agreements and programmes to make child rights a reality in the region.

One such agreement was the creation of the ASEAN Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), which is expected to champion child rights in ASEAN by supporting and institutionalising child participation.

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