Leticia, 15, a young woman growing up in an SOS Children’s Village in Paraguay, is participating at the End Violence Solutions Summit, in Stockholm, Sweden, on 14-15 February. At the event, she is representing the perspective of young people on the topic of violence against children, a persistent problem affecting children and families across the globe.
Making young people’s voices heard on the topic of violence against children is particularly important to Leticia.
“It is important that we are heard, because many children suffer from violence and poverty. Often, children are not listened to, not even by their parents. But violence is a reality, and it hurts.”
“It is the children who are living this reality. So it is them who understand what violence means,” she adds.
“It is important that young people like Leticia participate in events such as the End Violence Solutions Summit,” says Mr Olegario Olmedo, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay. “This way, they take on leading roles when it comes to their rights. They can learn about topics that affect their lives, speak up for young people, express their opinions and ideas, and propose solutions they consider important.”
Leticia is a member of the Municipal Commission on Children and Adolescents in her community, San Ignacio. As a commission member, she has participated in activities related to children’s rights, including topics such as sexual abuse and sexual and reproductive rights.
“I like being involved in the commission, because we can work on topics that help defend the rights of children and adolescents which are not protected enough in Paraguay,” explains Leticia.
One way of bringing about change is to work with parents so they understand the importance of a childhood without violence, Leticia suggests. “Children have to be treated well”, she adds.
“Adults have to understand that violence is not a way of raising a child,” Leticia says. “They have to get it out of their mind that violence can teach a child. They don’t realize that they are destroying their own children.”
Leticia says she is concerned that violence can affect children’s health and their future, and children who suffer violence could also turn to violence once they become parents.
If she had one wish to create a better future for all children around the world, she would ask for everyone to be able to grow up without violence.
“I wish that there was an end to violence and respect for all children. Their dignity should be respected because children are the present and the future of our country.”
In her first trip to Europe, Leticia wants to continue promoting children’s rights.
“I want to do my bit to put an end to violence against children and adolescents.”
In Paraguay, violence against children is a widespread reality. According to UNICEF, six out of ten children say that they have experienced violence. A household survey in 2016 revealed that more than half of children under 14 have experienced psychological violence and/or corporal punishment.
For SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay, preventing violence against children is an important focus. SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay is an active member of the National Commission for the Prevention of and Response to Violence against Children and Adolescents.
Through family strengthening programmes, SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay supports families to develop capacities and skills to prevent violence, offering activities to promote violence-free, positive parenting and positive discipline. Through SOS family care, SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay also supports children who have lost the care of their parents due to violence. Additionally, SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay works to raise awareness about violence against children to help bring about change in families and in the society.
Interview: Focusing on prevention to end violence against children