Children in Africa, across all ages, religions and cultures, suffer violence, exploitation and abuse every day. Those in the world’s poorest communities are especially vulnerable — and, because of their poverty, less resilient.
Often children in violent or abusive environments are unable to exercise their other important rights — to food, shelter, adequate health services, education — which further impairs their development and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Working together — sharing resources, knowledge and experience — we can have greater impact in the short term and work to build stronger communities and institutions for the future.
Harm to Children Takes Place In Many Forms:
Abuse can be physical, psychological, emotional or sexual. It may be harsh, humiliating corporal punishment, incest or female genital mutilation. Early and forced marriage can set the stage for a variety of abuses.
Neglect is the failure to provide for children’s basic emotional and physical needs, whether deliberately or carelessly. Abandonment leaves children vulnerable to institutionalization, exploitation and other hazards.
Exploitation is the use of a child for another person’s advantage. This includes child labor; child trafficking; sexual exploitation, including child pornography, child prostitution, early marriage and sex tourism; and, in many countries, recruitment into armed forces.
Violence can come to a child through individuals, groups or the state and takes many forms: forced displacement and separation, torture, mutilation, physical punishment, rape and other forms of gender-based violence.
At Appomense Hope For Africa, we focus our work on children’s right to protection throughout their lives, tailoring our efforts to the distinct needs of each age group. For infants and toddlers, the primary risk is violence in the home. School-age children often face violence in their schools or are forced to work in the worst forms of child labor. Before they reach young adulthood, girls face the likelihood of child marriage and dropping out of school, and boys are at increased risk for gangs, violence and suicide.
Appomense approach to keeping children safe and protected envisions children and their environment as a series of rings of protection with the child at the center. The family is the first ring, surrounded by the community and then local institutions, which are encompassed by national and then international structures. (AHFA)efforts touch all of these levels of protection, because each environmental support reinforces the others and because protecting children requires all these levels.
We help children to understand the law and their own rights and responsibilities. We help children become agents of change, advocating for themselves and others.
We work to strengthen families’ abilities to promote their children’s well-being within safe environments. This means educating caregivers about how to help advance their children’s development, and it also includes social and economic strengthening to build family stability.
We educate members of the community and help raise awareness in communities by creating and strengthening mechanisms that support children’s well-being and protection, such as child protection committees, guide mothers and parent-teacher associations, teaching them to make effective use of local institutions responsible for preventing and responding to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence that may affect their children. We work with decision makers at the national level to support governments in upholding international treaties, laws, services and organizations in promoting the best interests of the child.
We advocate for international policy changes, calling upon world leaders to make protecting children a global priority.