Addressing a conference on the prohibition of corporal punishment, organised by the Council of Baltic Sea States, in Stockholm, President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said this year’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives a special meaning to the work which was done in Malta earlier this year, when the Office of the President organised the global conference on the universal prohibition of corporal punishment, and the work which has been done by the Council of the Baltic States regarding the same topic.
“Whenever we are united, we send a strong message within our countries and to the international community, that all forms of violence against children are unacceptable,” the President said, whilst adding that by continuing to endeavour, with other countries, to put an end to corporal punishment, “we safeguard the intrinsic human dignity and holistic wellbeing for our children and societies.”
President Coleiro Preca presented the main outcomes which resulted from the high-level global conference which was organised in Malta earlier this year, which included contributions from international delegation, alongside distinguished keynote speakers and expert panellists.
The main outcomes and recommendations included:
- The need for capacity-building, and the need for more guidance and training opportunities for professionals who work with, and for children.
- The provision of immediate care to a child who has been the victim of abuse and punishment – which should always take place in a child-friendly setting, which respects the voice and the experiences of the individual child.
- The need for awareness-raising initiatives, access to information, and effective social mobilisation.
- The need for children to know that they have the right and the ability to report corporal punishment and to discuss their feelings and experiences.
- The need for positive parenting, whereby parents need to be offered alternatives to corporal punishment, and where the underlying mentalities and cultural norms need to be challenged and addressed.
- The need for a change in mentality and culture, which should take place by embracing a bottom-up approach (including awareness, education and training), to develop the necessary strategy, as well as a top-down approach, to put in place effective legislation and policies.
- The importance for the right language to be used, against corporal punishment, which should also reflect the local cultural context.
- The urgency and the importance to collect data and research, since a cause for concern which was aired during the conference was the insufficient data on this topic.
- The duty which adults and the authorities have to empower our children to tell their own stories in their own way, “as children are the experts on childhood, and their voices must be heard by our politicians, legislators, policy-makers and activists.”
- The need to prioritise prevention of corporal punishment.
- The need for the authorities to budget for prevention, learning to see it as an essential investment in the holistic wellbeing of our children and our societies as a whole.
- The need to put our children first, in all of the processes that are being implemented.
These outcomes will be published in partnership with the global initiative to end all corporal punishment of children and are scheduled to make a contribution to the next high-level global conference, which will take place in Tunisia in 2020.
“The Malta Global Conference concluded its work by the signing of a Declaration by many of the national delegations, to prohibit corporal punishment in all its forms. This gesture of goodwill strengthened our united position, and further highlighted this issue on a global platform,” Her Excellency said.
President Coleiro Preca stated that ending all forms of violence against children is a fundamental prerequisite, to effectively achieve the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and its seventeen sustainable development goals. In particular, SDG Number 16 Target 2, mandates our countries to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against children.
On concluding the President urged the international community to take effective and urgent action, to ensure that violence against children is no longer considered “normal”, or part of the status quo, and stated that “if we are truly committed in our efforts to build peace among our nations, we must surely begin by making peace in our homes, in our schools and in our communities.”