Each year, since the founding of the World Day in 2008, greater numbers of people join the movement. In 2011, we have received reports of over 80 activities organized in 71 countries!
This year was also the first in our three-year campaign to “Stop Violence Against Children” — and we are clearly seeing a sharper focus on child protection. One of the emerging areas of interest is positive parenting to prevent corporal punishment. Taking action against violence affecting children seems to be resonating globally with both faith-based and civil organizations. To illustrate this from Africa and South Asia:
Uganda took on the challenge with a message from leaders of three faiths reaching 3,000 persons over a three day period in Kampala – then launched a national radio, TV and billboard campaign potentially reaching up to 30 million people in 112 districts of Uganda. The World Day has been a catalyst for building alliances and urging the legislature to pass a child protection bill that has been pending for seven years. Organizers are working to build a critical mass of child advocates or ambassadors against violence, and tie in World Day promotion with Convention on the Rights of the Child efforts as well.
Timor-Leste found the World Day to be a great chance to raise awareness on topics they were already working on, as well as build new relationships with faith-based organizations. With the Bishop of Dili (whose Sunday Mass on stopping violence against children drew 500 worshipers) and the well-known Pastoral da Crianca, they are primed for establishing parent groups, raising awareness on child marriage, and promote birth registration as well.
In India through the leadership of the Ramakrishna Mission, 12 collaborating organizations organized its first-ever “Global Week for Holistic Welfare of Children” in Kolkata. Workshops promoted the major themes of “Disciplining Children With Love” and “Positive and Purposeful Parenting.” Health checkups for children were also given.
However, a true movement is driven by people locally, from what they experience and feel is important. So sometimes, themes other than the ones chosen by the World Day prevail. The Philippines for example, is calling for the end of armed conflict and the use of child soldiers by rebel groups. They are also working to mainstream children’s issues into the peace agenda. To create visibility, children are burying toy guns and planting seedlings at the World Day ceremony site. They are also painting a collaborative mural in a central station park.
All of these examples show that stopping violence against children of course cannot happen all at once. But it cannot happen at all without the prayers and action of caring people all over the world, creating frameworks and strategies that will stand the test of time. Like trees planted for future generations, and like rays of hope for years to come, all World Day efforts build shelter and light for the safety and well-being of children. And for this, we at the World Day are always grateful.