UN committee makes recommendations on children’s rights
Guyana Chronicle
October 15, 2001

THE United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded its general discussion Wednesday on the theme ‘Violence Against Children within the Family and in the Schools’.

A series of recommendations were made and will be adopted during the course of its current session, a Press release from Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) reported.

It said, at the international level, among other things, the group recommended that studies be carried out on the different types of violent treatment of which children were victims, the extent of such violence and the impact on children.

The committee said account must be taken of its general comment “on the aims of education which emphasised the impact of violence in schools on the denial of the child’s right to an education directed to the development of the child’s personality, talent and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.”

It also urged agencies and other bodies of the UN system to adopt a more integrated multi-sectoral approach to the prevention of violence against children, through public health and epidmiological approaches, consideration of poverty and socio-economic marginalisation and the impact of multiple forms of discrimination.

State parties were called upon to review all relevant child protection legislation to ensure that, while effective protection was ensured, intervention was adequately tailored to individual context and circumstances, preferring the least intrusive method.

“In addition, the Committee encouraged State parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), UN human rights mechanisms, UN agencies and other bodies to give priority to raising awareness and bringing about change in cultural attitudes about the problem of violence against children,” GHRA said.

The organisation said it was recommended, as well, that an alternative vision of a school where the rights and dignity of all were respected, including children and teachers, should guide all actions on the issue of violence against children.

“The main strategy should be to galvanise actions around that vision rather than using punitive measures. In that vision, relations between and among children and teachers were mutually respectful and the safety and security of all was promoted.

“Over the course of the discussion and in the recommendations presented at the end of the debate, the need to prohibit the practice of corporal punishment, however light it may be, was underlined,” the statement added.

It said State parties must be encouraged to repeal, as a matter of urgency, any legislation that allowed violence to be used as a form of discipline within the family, contrary to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The committee recognised that different forms of violence against children, such as corporal punishment, bullying, sexual harassment and abuse and verbal and emotional abuse were interlinked and that violence in the home and school context reinforced one another.

“The committee emphasised that violence was wrong and unacceptable under any circumstances and the actions to stop violence against children needed to take adequate account of different contexts and should fully engage local actors,” GHRA said.

Consequently, NGOs should devote increased attention to the prevention and protection of children from violence in schools.

The discussions stressed, too, the importance of parents, teachers and the society being empowered to seek other forms of rearing children and applying disciplinary measures in schools.