Business has the power to change children lives.     

By Peter Midwa

Your business is successful. You are growing. Well, if you are starting to think about expanding further at this point, you may need to begin evolving ways that put an end to violence against children.

On 17th July 2017, World Vision, a humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children to reach their full potential, published a report, The Case For Business Action To End Violence Against Children, which outlines the steps businesses could take to ensure there is no violence against children present in the operations, products and services of their own business. Topics covered include: the economic and social costs of violence against children, the campaign to end violence against children, and partnering with World Vision.

According to the report, more than half the world’s children – that’s a billion children between the ages of 2 and 17 years – experience some type of violence every year, whether its child labor, child trafficking, sexual violence, online violence or children affected by conflict.  Moreover, 28 million children have been driven from their homes by violence and conflict within and across borders. Such data actually begins to describe the vast bulk of children that are unprotected, so great in their numbers that, as many more flock across borders, they are hard-pressed and faced with the reality of the discrimination against Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which ensures the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. All children everywhere have the right to survive and develop, but these acts of violence strongly scar the child’s health and well being. After all, and more positively, childhood is the time for children to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of the community and caring adults.

Some may think, is child protection essential, or even realistic, when it comes to business? Such a perception within this society itself can be quite ill, and can have a wide range of consequences. For example, World Vision quickly quotes in the report that damage done to children leads to losses in future productivity and earnings, leading to a lower household income and a less stable and attractive business environment. Perhaps it is time that businesses began to consider how violence against children could hinder several development goals.

Hoping at best to shift this existing paradigm, World Vision has given some steps that businesses can take to facilitate the health and well being of children with regard to social and economic implications. Businesses can:

  • leverage the full extent of their business’ capabilities, employees, networks and brands to develop new solutions, mobilize resources and influence change, including shifting social attitudes and behaviors
  • engage through strategic ‘shared-value’ partnerships, philanthropic and corporate social responsibility (CSR) approaches, and/or their corporate foundations
  • contact World Vision to explore collaboration opportunities.

As stated above, World Vision describes ending child violence in terms of a continuing pattern of close coordination between the corporate and civil society sector.  Protecting children is a global problem that requires concerted efforts of the community at large, now widely viewed in Article 29(D) of the Kenya constitution which states that every person has the right to freedom and security which includes the right not to be subjected to torture in any manner, whether physical or psychological.

In the context of psychological violence, the Internet, one of the most powerful communication tools used around the world, has some negative effects to it. The online society has different types of crime that occur such as solicitation of minors, cyber bullying, identity theft, and child pornography. Just like in the physical society, we need to protect children from Internet crimes. Protecting children online is also an issue that businesses, especially businesses in the communication sector, must ensure in order to safe guard the development of children.

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Fortunately, World Vision has made provision for a new global campaign, It Takes a World, which highlights the aspirations for ending violence against children together with campaign partners (including businesses). This can now be seen as a new source of hope to deliver on the sustainable development goals. Summarized so clearly, the campaign seeks to positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable boys and girls by 2021 by raising awareness through global movements, strengthening response measures to address violence against children while increasing long-term funding, and strengthening accountability for the implementation of commitments to end violence against children.

In addition, the campaign symbol represents explicitly that it takes every individual, church, institution and business to give children the support and protection they need, this being the very effective strategy that promises much sounder results. Since we realize that all children are worthy of our attention, it is fair that we value child protection, and a good starting point would be grounding businesses in making decisions that help us move forward in strengthening child rights.  Indeed, in the words of Kevin Jenkins, World Vision International president and CEO, business has the power to drive change.

Peter is a journalist with Mtoto News

 Mtoto News is an online platform of news, information and resources that aims at making significant change in the lives of children by making them visible. Read  or follow us on twitter and Facebook @mtotonews






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