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The COVID-19 pandemic dominated the landscape for UNICEF Innocenti’s work in 2020, bringing both opportunities and disruptions. The pandemic has underscored the power of utilizing research and evidence in addressing crisis and uncertainty, and in finding solutions to tough global challenges.
Opportunities emerged in the shape of a Rapid Research Response to assess the pandemic’s impact on children, utilizing evidence syntheses, rapid assessment tools and agile communication modalities. In turn, thousands of users were empowered to gain access to UNICEF Innocenti’s research, knowledge management, ethical advice and convening power.
Evidence and objective assessment are needed more than ever
to help enhance the rights and well-being of the world’s children. Researching the changing world around us and evaluating progress are two sides of the same coin, both critical to reimagining a better future for children. In recognition of this,
UNICEF celebrates and showcases innovative and influential research and
evaluations from our offices around the world every year. For 2020, Innocenti and the
Evaluation Office joined forces to find the most rigorous UNICEF studies with
greatest influence on policies and programmes that benefit children.
Gilmar Zambrana Cruz; Gwyther Rees
As access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) increases, so too do the risks posed to children. Popular ICTs, like mobile phones and the internet, can enable and facilitate sexual crimes against children, including the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and the facilitation of child prostitution.
The scale of the problem is difficult to ascertain with precision. However, in 2018 alone, 18.4 million referrals of child sexual abuse material were made by US technology companies to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
When addressing the issue, children’s own experiences and perspectives need to be considered. For the most part, the use of ICTs can generate positive benefits for children. Addressing the root causes of children’s vulnerability therefore requires a rights-based and holistic approach. Priorities include more and better evidence on the role of ICTs in facilitating or enabling the sale and sexual exploitation of children; clear terminology; new and improved legislation to help end the sale and sexual exploitation of children; and a multi-sectoral collaborative response.
36.1 million children were international migrants in 2018 alone, often forced to move for a range of reasons, with or without families. Children who are migrating, especially if unaccompanied, face increased risk of being subjected to violence, including sexual violence, exploitation, and human trafficking. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by limited access to safe migration pathways, services, and justice. When they reach a destination country, they may encounter other difficulties, such as discrimination and limited access to basic services, making them extremely vulnerable to sale and sexual exploitation.
Migrant children face harsh realities that are characterized by multiple intersecting and overlapping issues. Even though they may show resilience and agency in dealing with difficult circumstances, the emotional, mental, and physical toll of uncertain and often arduous journeys may undermine their ability to protect themselves, making them even more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and exploitation.
Children left behind when families, especially one or both parents, migrate also face additional (and often hidden) vulnerabilities, and need to be included in research, policies and actions.
While various Conventions, Protocols, and Compacts offer some protection to migrant children, more needs to be done, including: an integrated approach to complex vulnerabilities; improved access to information and education for children; risk mitigation through awareness campaigns and prevention mechanisms; adequate access to resources; and expanding national child protection measures to include children on the move and those left behind in the context of migration and displacement.
Sport has a powerful effect on children’s well-being and can promote greater physical health, emotional and mental balance, and help children develop important skills. But sport can also expose children to grievous harm and violence.
At the extreme end is the sale of athletes, especially in major sports like football. Child athletes can easily fall victim to human trafficking, sometimes for the purposes of economic or sexual exploitation.
Everyday participation in sport can also expose children to violence and harm. Instructors and coaches typically enjoy substantial impunity due to their authoritative role and the great pressure exerted on children to perform, often with the support of parents who are unaware of the exposure to harm.
The interconnectedness of sport and the sale and sexual exploitation of children is a relatively unexplored issue that deeply affects their life experiences. While Conventions and Optional Protocols provide guidance, not enough research is available to inform actions, and laws are not fully equipped to regulate what is often a lucrative business.
مع زيادة عدد الأشخاص الذين يستخدمون تكنولوجيا المعلومات والاتصالات في جميع أنحاء العالم، يترتب على ذلك آثار تتعلق ببيع الأطفال واستغلالهم جنسياً. فتكنولوجيا المعلومات والاتصالات الشائعة، مثل الهواتف النقالة وشبكة الإنترنت، أصبحت عوامل تمكينية و/أو مُيسِّرة لارتكاب الجرائم الجنسية ضد الأطفال، بما في ذلك إنتاج ونشر مواد تتضمّن اعتداءات جنسية على الأطفال؛ وتسهيل بغاء الأطفال، والاستغلال الجنسي، ونقل الأعضاء، والتبني غير القانوني؛ وبيع الأطفال لأغراض العمل القَسْري؛ واستمالة الأطفال لأغراض جنسية.
تُؤثر الرياضة تأثيراً قوياً على رفاه الأطفال، ويمكنها أن تعزز صحتهم البدنية وتوازنهم العاطفي والعقلي، وأن تساعدهم في اكتساب مهارات مهمة في ما يتعلق بالمشاركة وبناء الفريق والتعاون. بيد أن الرياضة قد تعرض الأطفال في الوقت نفسه لضرر وعنف بالغين.
يتعرض الأطفال المنخرطون في حركات الهجرة ، سواء داخل الدول أو فيما بينها ، لخطر متزايد من التعرض للعنف أوالخضوع له. الأطفال المهاجرون واللاجئون معرضون للخطرخاصة إذا كانوا غير مصحوبين بذويهم أو منفصلين عن أسرهم وقد يتعرضون للعنف الجنسي والاستغلال ، فضلاً عن العمل القسري والاتجار بالبشر٠