There is a new and potentially powerful global recognition that child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) is a grave violation of human rights and a major public health issue. These longstanding and worldwide violations of the innocent were worsened by the quarantine and isolation of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The incidence of CSEA is staggering. WHO reports 120 million girls and young women under 20 years of age suffer some form of forced physical contact; 1 in 5 women; 1 in 13 men report sex abuse before age 18. Most never report the abuse because of shame and victim guilt.
Now, just preceding Pope Francis’ World Youth Day message to young people affected by the multiple traumas of pandemic, there is a global convergence of commitment to ensure long-term protection and prevention. November 18, 2021 has been declared the International Day for Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Prevention, Healing and Justice on behalf of the Global Collaborative, a survivor led network of NGO’s, faith-based institutions, survivors networks and governments for abuse prevention, healing and justice, aims to promote public awareness and the need for action.
In concert with the Global Initiative, November 19 has been declared the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. This project sponsored by Arigatou International and a consortium of religious groups focuses on praying for children’s mental health, emotional and spiritual well-being.
In his Nov 21 World Youth Day Pope Francis message acknowledges the particular impact of pandemic on the young. He recognizes their losses of school, sports, religious and cultural celebrations, the ordinary rituals of identity and security.
If the old proverb is true and “It takes a village to raise a child”, we have learned that it takes the global village to protect all children and promote resilience in the inevitability of adversity.