Have you witnessed violence against a child or do you know a child victim of violence?
Violence against children
Violence against children includes all forms of harm, such as physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse against children. It can take many forms and can be perpetrated by anyone, including those close to the child or in a position of authority (e.g., parents, relatives, educational staff or caregivers).
What to do if you know or suspect a child is a victim of violence:
- Make sure that the child is not in any immediate danger, if they are, try to arrange a safe space until the relevant child protection agency arrives
- Be respectful of their boundaries – do not hug, cuddle or stroke the child without clear consent from them
- Immediately report your suspicions to the relevant local authority such as the police, social services or a dedicated hotline
- Let the child know that you support them, let them talk about what they’ve experienced
- Ask the child if they are hungry, thirsty or whether they need anything special at that moment
- Do not try to distract the child – acknowledge their experience and emotions
- Listen attentively, let them express their emotions in a non-verbal way if needed, and let them know you believe them
- Tell them you are sorry to hear about the event and that you want to help.
Keep your eyes open to the different types of violence against children.
Physical abuse occurs when someone commits an act that results in physical injury to a child or adolescent.
Sexual violence against a child
Sexual violence against a child includes completed or attempted sexual contact and acts of a sexual nature not involving contact (such as voyeurism or sexual harassment); sex trafficking ; and online exploitation.
Emotional or psychological abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse is a pattern of behaviour that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. It includes criticism, threats, insults or rejection, withholding love, support, or guidance or placing unreasonable limits on a child.
Other forms of violence include neglect, peer-to-peer violence (e.g. bullying) or being a victim or witness of domestic violence.
in the European Union
The rights of victims’ family members
Many of the rights that apply to victims also apply to their family members, such as the right to access support services, the right to protection and the right to privacy.
Right to protection and to individual assessment
Victims and their family members have the right to be protected from secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation, retaliation and emotional harm. The purpose of individual assessment is to identify whether victims have specific protection needs and to determine whether and to what extent they would benefit from special measures in the course of criminal proceedings. The dignity of victims must be protected when they are testifying.
Right to participate in criminal proceedings
Victims have the right to take part in criminal proceedings.
Right to support services
All victims have the right to confidential victim support services that is free of charge, acting in the interests of the victims before, during and for an appropriate time after criminal proceedings.
Right to information
Victims have the right to receive information on a range of topics including, but not limited to, what support is available and how to access it, compensation, restorative justice, protection, how to report criminal offences and how to access legal advice.
Right to understand and to be understood
Victims have the right to be heard, understood and respected. All communication with victims (written and spoken) must be simple and easy for them to understand.
Find out how keeping your eyes open can help victims of violence.