Children’s rights are an indispensable part of several of the sustainable development goals and targets. The goal on quality education for all, and the targets on the elimination of harmful practises and on ending all forms of violence against children, are fundamental parts of Agenda 2030.
Two years have passed since we adopted the new agenda. Now, it is high time for implementation. We must make sure that no child is left behind.
Norway works hard to promote education globally, and we have doubled our development assistance to education over the past four years. Education is not only essential for individual development and a child’s ability to reach its fullest potential; it is a catalyst for job creation, economic growth, healthier lives and gender equality.
Education also has major positive side effects. When children go to school, it is far less likely that they fall victim to trafficking, child labor, child, early and forced marriage, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.
Equally, we see that child-, early- and forced marriage lead to dropouts of school, and deprive girls of their childhood. Female genital mutilation is an unacceptable practise. Far too often, we see that girls who are subject to such harmful practises also experience sexual abuse and other forms of violence.
Children are beaten, assaulted and abused - every day - all around the world. Some suffer serious injuries or even die due to severe acts of violence and abuse.
Violence and abuse can mark a child for life. It is essential to identify and treat destructive childhood experiences in a timely and adequate manner. Otherwise, these experiences might have devastating consequences also on adult life. Violence constitutes a significant public health problem, and has high costs for society.
Despite systematic efforts to create a safe environment for all children, violence and abuse still take place in Norway. To that end, the Norwegian Government has adopted a national plan to scale up efforts to combat violence against children significantly. It addresses how to prevent and detect violence, offer timely treatment and strengthen the coordination and collaboration of various responsible public entities.
The government has a zero tolerance policy for bullying in schools, and recently launched a strategy, with a range of measures, to achieve this vision.
We know that violence is used as a tool in the upbringing of children in many countries. Norway would like to take this opportunity to encourage all countries to ban corporal punishment of children.
Recruitment and exploitation of children by terrorist and violent extremist groups is a serious form of violence against children. Norway strongly condemns the systematic recruitment and use of children to perpetrate terrorist attacks, as well as the violations and abuses committed by terrorist groups against children. Member states needs to take all necessary measures to prevent this and children associated with terror and violent extremism must be treated in line with the principles of child-friendly justice.
Norway fully supports our common goal to end all forms of violence against children by 2030, and fully endorse that this year’s omnibus resolution focus on this important topic.
Efforts to fight violence and abuse against children demand cooperation, competence and willingness to act. We cannot rest until every child is secured a childhood free from fear and violence.