An obstruction to nation’s growth
Violence against children not only obstructs the growth of children but also contributes to slowing down a country's economy and social development, said child rights experts.
Recent research conducted on 150 children under the age of 16 belonging to a lower-income background from five areas of the capital, found that 100 percent of them experienced at least three types of violence -- physical, sexual and domestic.
The findings of the research were revealed yesterday at the "National Symposium on Child Protection in Bangladesh", jointly organised by Unicef and the European Union, at a city hotel yesterday.
The study also found that 73 percent of them received primary treatment or stayed in clinics or hospitals after the incident, while 52 percent of them got involved in violence after they experienced that themselves.
Around 48 percent of the children do not live with their parents afterwards and live off of robbery and begging. A hundred percent of them are school dropouts, with no intention to rejoin formal education.
The government aims to build a professional social services workforce that enhances efficient delivery of child protection services such as child helpline 1098, child protection allowances, and community-based outreach services involving volunteers, adolescent children, and community people so that no child is left behind.
However, the study, conducted by Prof Rahmatullah of the American International University of Bangladesh, found that 90 percent of them are interested in vocational education or training.
According to Prof Rahmatullah, on average Tk eight lakh was spent on these children after their birth to till 16 years, considering the minimum cost of living and education provided.
"Roughly Tk 12 crore was invested on these 150 children. If we assume the multiplier effect, we can expect Tk 96 crore revenue or economic return from the respondents, which is called the opportunity cost that we lost due to the violence committed against them," he said.
"However, the expected positive economic return will be zero unless we bring them back to the formal sectors. Strengthened investment in child protection and violence prevention is the only vaccine to put an end to the pandemic of violence against children," he said.
He also recommended the need to promote good practice, a focus on research and advocacy and scaling up the funding in this regard.
Considering the broader picture in terms of violence against children in Bangladesh, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), jointly conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and Unicef Bangladesh Country Office shows that 45 million Bangladeshi children under the age of 15 -- a shocking 89 percent -- are regularly subjected to physical and psychological violence at home.
According to Unicef data, over three million children in the country are trapped in child labour, of whom, 1.3 million are in hazardous occupations.
One in five children does not complete primary school.
In addition, nearly half of the children remain unregistered at birth. One in every two girls falls victim to child marriage. Meanwhile, untold millions of children live on the street.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a video message, made the ground-breaking commitment of increasing the number of social workers by 200 percent, by recruiting 6,000 new social workers, bringing the workforce from 3,000 to 9,000 yesterday at the symposium.
She also emphasised the importance of making child protection services available at the community level.
"The government aims to build a professional social services workforce that enhances efficient delivery of child protection services such as child helpline 1098, child protection allowances, and community-based outreach services involving volunteers, adolescent children, and community people so that no child is left behind," she said.