On 26 June, the World Council of Churches (WCC) joined an online panel discussion for the launch of a global status report on preventing violence against children, released by UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, the UN Special Representative on Violence against Children and the End Violence Partnership, of which WCC is a member.
The panel discussion took place in the second of a two-part event for the launch of the report. WCC’s senior advisor on children’s rights, Frederique Seidel, showed how religious leaders and communities are protecting children from violence.
“For many children, religious communities represent a shelter, where they find moral and practical support,” said Seidel during the online event that drew over 2,500 participants from across the world. The Faith and Positive Change for Children initiative led by UNICEF and Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities and the Out of the Shadows’ campaign to prevent sexual violence against children were among the examples attesting the decisive role of churches in protecting children.
The climate-related drivers that contribute to violence against children were another critical element highlighted by Seidel. In response to that, “many religious leaders urge to divest from fossil fuel as a moral imperative, for example through the Operation Noah,” she said during the panel.
By collecting and analysing self-reported feedback by 1,000 decision-makers, the report provides a snapshot of countries’ progress toward global targets. The report also talks about COVID-19 and its impact on children. The pandemic’s isolation measures have led to an increase in violence, abuse and domestic abuse across the globe, and the report highlights those trends with a focus on children’s experiences.