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World Summit Focuses on Preventing Child Abuse

A global coalition of more than 600 governmental and non-governmental organizations in more than 110 countries is marking the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse. The coalition is organizing rallies, demonstrations and other events to focus attention on this huge and growing problem.

The global coalition says child abuse is a huge and persistent problem in all societies around the world. Elly Pradervand is Executive Director of the Geneva-based Women's World Summit Foundation, the driving force behind the worldwide campaign to prevent child abuse.

She says millions of children are victimized by so-called traditional forms of abuse, such as physical violence, neglect, sexual and emotional abuse. She says technological advances in communications are making the world more aware of the magnitude of these problems.

"There are over one million children that are exploited every year in the multi-billion dollar sex industry," said Elly Pradervand. "More than 14 million that are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Three hundred thousand children are soldiers. One hundred eighty million children work in the worst forms of child labor and 121 million children in the world are not in school, of which 65 percent are girls."

Besides these long-standing forms of abuse, Ms. Pradervand says children now are faced with new threats posed by modern technology. She says children who have access to the internet are exposed to many dangers from hundreds of thousands of web sites run by unscrupulous people.

"There are so many sites on internet with pornography and child abuse that I feel that our children are exposed to dangers for which nobody has the capacity to assimilate what they are faced with," she said. "And, now with the new technologies coming up in the mobile telephones where children can receive on those telephones images of pornography and other types of communications that are not meant for them at their age."

Ms. Pradervand says internet web sites that prey on children are growing faster than are the regulations needed to control them. She says the world has the means and the programs that could end the abusive treatment of children, but more work is needed to rally around this cause.

She says the global coalition, with the backing of many governments, is lobbying to get the U.N General Assembly to adopt a resolution to create an International Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse. She says a U.N. resolution would greatly strengthen efforts to stamp out child abuse.