Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Maria E. Brewer – Program Launch for the Year of Action to End Violence against Children (September 15, 2015)

(as prepared for delivery)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Please allow me to stand on all existing protocols.

It is a pleasure to be here this morning with all of you to participate in the launch of the Year to End Violence against Children.

The United Nations reports that, every day and in every country, girls and boys suffer from and witness violence. This happens in all cultures and across all socio-economic classes.  Violence does not discriminate along ethnic or tribal lines.  Violence against children occurs for many reasons, in many diverse settings and is sometimes rooted in cultural and social practices.

Such violence has devastating consequences for children’s health, development, and well-being.  Sadly, most violent acts against children are carried out by people they know.  As a society, we must strive to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against children.

Nigeria conducted a Violence Against Children survey in 2014.  This survey, the first of its kind in West Africa, provided the data to form a clear depiction of the nature and extent of the problem.  This bold first step was funded through PEPFAR in collaboration with the National Population Commission and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, or CDC.  The survey helped civil society and government leaders to formulate a plan of action to address this ongoing problem and suggest solutions.

International cooperation also played a critical role in the success of the survey.  Through an agreement with UNICEF, the CDC funded the field survey and provided significant technical support. They trained the interviewers and assisted in the collation and analysis of the data.

Building on the survey results, the Government of Nigeria convened a technical working group.  The group, led by Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, developed the Nigeria Violence Against Children Response Plan.  This plan, funded by USAID through a grant to UNICEF, includes representatives from relevant ministries and agencies, as well as external stakeholders.

We have made progress in this fight but much still remains to be done.  While Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act in 2003, not all states have ratified it.  Physical and psychological violence against children still occurs in schools and homes – in addition to the violence that affects children living on the streets or exploited by adults.

All children must be protected from abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect.  Violence against children is never justified.  Violence ispreventable. We look forward to continuing our work together to end violence against the Nigerian child.

Thank you.