In 2011, the Word Day of Prayer and Action for Children committed to a new global theme: Stop Violence against Children for the following reasons:
- Ending violence against children is an urgent global challenge.
- Protecting children from violence is essential for protecting children’s rights.
- Violence against Children can be prevented.
Urgent action is needed to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children, wherever children are at risk.
Therefore, The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children highlight three proven child protection strategies:
1) Protecting children through universal birth registration.
Each year, 51 million children are unregistered, mostly in developing countries.1
Without documentation, children risk being denied basic rights to education, healthcare, employment and nationality, and are more vulnerable to trafficking, forced marriage, abuse and exploitation.
As part of 2011 World Day in Nigeria, UNICEF organized a national workshop with key religious leaders to engage religious communities as advocates for universal birth registration. The workshop developed a joint work plan with the National Population Commission to improve birth registration in local communities.
2) Promoting positive parenting and non-violent discipline.
Three out of four children under 14 experience some form of violent discipline at home.2
Positive parenting rejects violent discipline and allows children to grow up in a safe environment. In Sri Lanka, over 500 community leaders, religious leaders and young people came together at a 2011 World Day of Prayer and Action for Children event, organized by the Sarvodaya Movement and UNICEF, to raise awareness of the negative effects of corporal punishment as a form of discipline.
3) Ending child marriage.
Child marriage puts children, especially girls, at higher risk of exploitation and abuse, and of violations of their rights to health and education, among others.
UNICEF describes early marriage as the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls, affecting one out of every three girls in developing countries.
Every year, 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married, putting them at high risk for domestic violence, as well as injury or death from sexual activity and childbearing.
Estimates of the prevalence of child marriage indicate it is a persistent practice in many parts of the world.
As part of World Day 2011, the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya helped organize an interfaith prayer and action meeting for children aimed at sensitizing the community and promoting public discussion of birth registration, and the prevention of child marriage.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is part of the growing global movement to end violence against children in its many forms, including child labor, the trafficking and abuse of children, children in armed conflict and child poverty.
Information is essential for every leader who wants to take action and do it well. That is why the World Day offers its compact “ABCs of Action and Advocacy” series online. Each title provides a “big picture” overview on a particular issue followed by progress to date and action ideas. Brief stories, quotes, and facts are offered that can be easily shared. And further resources are listed, to connect you with the global community of child advocates at work on the issues.
2. UNICEF, Child Disciplinary Practices at Home (2010).