David Beckham, Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is championing a letter signed by 18 child survivors of violence that calls on world leaders to end the widespread abuse affecting millions of children around the world.
“When I visited Cambodia with UNICEF earlier this year, I spent time with children and young people who have experienced terrible violence and abuse often at the hands of the people who were supposed to protect them,” said Mr. Beckham. “Their stories were deeply distressing and as a father it is devastating to think that any child should have to suffer like this.
“After listening to these incredibly brave children and hearing about the abuse they have endured, I want to make sure that world leaders act to protect children from danger,” he continued in a news release.
“Every child, especially the most vulnerable, should be safe. That’s why I am going to travel to the UN this September, to make sure that children’s voices are heard and that the world comes together to stop violence against children.”
The letter includes the words of survivors of violent conflict in South Sudan, sexual abuse in Iceland, and child trafficking in Pakistan, highlighting an epidemic of violence that faces children around the globe.
Mr. Beckham will join Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in New York next week to ask world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the centre of all decisions and investments made over the next 15 years as part of the new 2030 Agenda.
Earlier this year, Mr. Beckham launched a new fund with UNICEF, and made a commitment to helping the world’s most vulnerable children over the next decade, including children affected by violence.
“It is shocking that every five minutes a child dies as a result of violence,” he stated. “I hope others will join me to call on world leaders to put children at the heart of the new goals and commit to ending violence against children.”
Cornelius Williams, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Child Protection, noted that violence against children, especially sexual violence, leaves deep scars that live on in them right through adulthood.
“It rips apart families and societies, shatters stability and sets back progress,” he said. “Yet all too often, it is unseen and cloaked in silence. We have to speak about the unspeakable, make it visible, and act to end it.”