By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A powerful new film featuring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Mr David Beckham, has been released today to illustrate the brutal reality that physical and psychological abuse can mark children forever.
During the new 60-second UNICEF film, scenes of violence against children appear as animated tattoos on David Beckham’s body.
While Beckham’s own tattoos were marks chosen to represent happy or important memories, millions of children bear marks they have not chosen: the long-lasting scars of violence and abuse.
The animations in the film depict all too common forms of violence that boys and girls endure in spaces where they should be safe – their homes, schools, online and in their communities.
From today, the South African television channel, SuperSport, a partner of UNICEF South Africa, will be broadcasting the short film for a two-month period to 10 million families throughout Africa.
Beckham said: “When I launched my 7 Fund with UNICEF, I made a commitment to do everything I can to make the world a safer place for children and to speak out on issues that are having a devastating impact on children’s lives.
“One of those issues is violence. Every five minutes, somewhere in the world, a child dies from violence. Millions more are in danger of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that could destroy their childhoods forever.
“Last year I visited Cambodia with UNICEF where I met and listened to children tell me about terrible violence they have experienced. I was shocked by what I heard and I saw how violence can leave deep and lasting scars.
“No child should have to endure this. Yet in all corners of the world, in their homes, schools and on their streets, children are suffering similar violence. I hope this new project will draw attention to this urgent issue and inspire action. Violence against children is wrong and together we need to end it.”
Using U-report, a messaging tool that allows young people to report on issues affecting their lives, David Beckham invited youth to answer questions on violence against children.
More than 190,000 “U-Reporters” from 22 countries responded. Two-thirds of them said that they have personally experienced physical or verbal abuse or know somebody else who has. When asked who they think commits violence most often, one-third said police or law enforcement, 29 per cent said their peers, 28 per cent said a parent or caregiver and 9 per cent said teachers.
Approximately 80,000 U-Reporters provided suggestions on what can be done to address violence in their communities. A 24-year old U-Reporter from the Philippines said, “I will let my voice be heard and warn all people around me on what is happening, and ask for someone’s help to end it if I cannot do it alone.”
The tragic consequences of violence affect all aspects of a child’s life and can be passed down from one generation to the next. Violence against children carries serious costs to all societies in every region of the world.
“Violence and abuse take a terrible toll on children’s lives and futures — harming their bodies, undermining their emotional wellbeing, even interfering with the healthy development of their brains,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “When we protect children from violence, we prevent individual tragedies — and promote stronger, more stable societies. Thanks to powerful advocates like David Beckham, and fueled by the voices of children and young people themselves, we are building momentum for ending violence against children everywhere.”
Violence is not inevitable. UNICEF points to seven proven strategies that can help end violence against children. These include strengthening attitudes that support non-violence; enforcing laws; creating safe environments for children; supporting parents and caregivers; increasing family incomes to reduce poverty; strengthening social services and equipping children with life-skills.
David Beckham and UNICEF are urging people to share the new film on social media platforms.
After 10 years as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, David Beckham launched 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund in February 2015, making a commitment to helping the world’s most vulnerable children. Later that year, Beckham visited Cambodia where he met children who had suffered violence and abuse. Moved by the stories he heard, Beckham subsequently attended the United Nations and called on world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the centre of the new Sustainable Development Goals.
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