UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY
End legalised violence against children
Universal Children’s Day
Universal Children’s Day was established by the United Nations in 1954. For over 55 years, governments have celebrated Universal Children’s Day on the 20th of November to promote the well-being of children. This date also marks the day on which the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Further information: http://globaldimension.org.uk/calendar/event/4201
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) is also marked on Universal Children’s Day each year. The three-year theme for 2011-2013 is:
STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN. Further details and resources at: http://dayofprayerandaction.org
“Violence takes place in all contexts, including where children are expected to enjoy a secure environment and special protection – in care institutions, in the school and within the home. Although of epidemic proportions violence against children remains hidden and socially condoned and is often perceived as a social taboo or a form of discipline. It is seldom reported and often official statistics scarcely capture its magnitude and incidence. Violence is often perpetrated by people children know and trust. This is a pattern we must reverse urgently. The protection of children from violence needs to evolve from being a concern of a few into a priority for all.”
Marta Santos Pais, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children, 2011
Prayers to hand out on Universal Children’s Day
Justice for children
You have called us to work for true justice in our communities
and to be messengers of freedom
for all those who are not treated as your children.
Give us grace to put our faith into action
to end the violence and cruelty that overshadows many children’s lives.
Jesus taught us to welcome children and learn from them.
Help us to use our imagination to put ourselves in children’s shoes
so that we may learn to teach and guide them
with wisdom, gentleness and understanding.
And let us treat each child as we would treat the Christ child.
God of love, we pray that we may promote a culture of respect for the dignity of all children and young people. Help adults to teach children by their own example to develop mutual respect, for respect for one another is a key to non-violence. Amen
A prayer for parents
God our Creator
As Mary nurtured her son Jesus at each new stage of life
with wisdom and respect,
may we too meet each new challenge of parenting with full humanity
and respond to our children with kindness, compassion and understanding.
Help us to promote the true meaning of discipline
as discipleship, teaching and guidance;
not smacking, punishment and humiliation.
May we speak out boldly to challenge all those
who use religion to justify the painful punishment of children.
Create in us a sense of universal responsibility towards all children
and let us follow the example of Jesus
who listened to children and gave them status and respect.
And may we see your likeness and image in every child. Amen
Resources for Worship: www.churchesfornon-violence.org
A VIGIL WITH
Welcome to this Prayer Vigil dedicated to ending corporal punishment and all forms of violence against children. Throughout the world children are suffering as a result of violence at home, at school, and in the wider community.
On this Universal Children’s Day and World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, we join our prayers to those of many people all over the world who long for an end to such violence. We are conscious of our responsibility to create a world fit for children and we pray for grace and determination to take action towards transforming children’s lives.
We thank you God for the gift of childhood; for its own particular wisdom, and for its glimpses into the wonder of our world, and the promise of eternity. We pray for a society that so often steals childhood; that takes away its hopes and dreams, and does violence to the innocent. As in the manger-child, we gaze upon the face of God, so in each and every child, may we recognize the face of Christ, cherishing the miracle.
ALL: Hear our prayer
A HYMN or MUSIC
LISTENING TO THE CONCERNS OF CHILDREN
Children may be invited to compose and deliver their own messages and ideas about ending violence against children. They may prefer to do this through speaking, projecting visual messages or through drawings, poems, banner-making, drama, dance or music.
(Optional) CHILD’S REQUEST TO THE ADULT COMMUNITY
On behalf of the children of our community we ask you to join with others to end corporal punishment and all forms of violence against children. We want to learn to solve problems without the use of violence. We can do this by learning from your teaching, guidance and non-violent example.
(Optional) A RESPONSE FROM THE ADULT COMMUNITY
On behalf of our community we commit ourselves to ending corporal punishment. This violence – often disguised as discipline has been a part of our culture for too long. We must look to the example of Jesus who listened to children, respected them and treated them with gentleness, compassion and respect.
A HYMN or MUSIC
1 John 4:16b-end
AN ACT OF REMEMBRANCE FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE SUFFERED VIOLENCE
LEADER: We confess with penitence the ways in which our society has neglected or abused children, remembering in particular in a time of silence, those children who have suffered violence at the hands of adults, including corporal punishment.
A bell may be rung or a drum played softly before silence is kept
LEADER: Let us give thanks to God for the children entrusted to our care and protection.
ALL: We give thanks for the gifts which children bring to our society and for all who nurture children and protect them.
LEADER: Creator God, we thank you for the inherent dignity of every child.
ALL: We remember with sorrow all children who are not respected and who suffer from violence.
LEADER: We thank you for those who protect children.
ALL: We remember with sorrow all children who are not protected and who are humiliated through violence and neglect.
LEADER: We thank you for those who listen to children.
ALL: We remember all children who have no voice, or whose concerns are not heard.
LEADER: We thank you for those who are called to work with children.
ALL: We remember with regret all children who have not received good quality care and support.
LEADER: We thank you for those who help children who have suffered.
ALL: We remember with sadness all children who have not been helped.
LEADER: We thank you for those who model non-violent ways to resolve conflict.
ALL: We remember with sorrow all children who have never known justice, fairness and compassion.
ALL: In the name of God we commit ourselves to our children, to helping them learn well, to discover boundaries, and to explore safely, without fear of being hit or hurt by those they trust, so that we might reflect God’s gentle love for them, for us and for all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
LEADER: Let us draw our prayers together in the words that Jesus taught us
THE LORDS PRAYER
You may like to include a hymn, music, drama or mime here. Visual images may be displayed or a video such as: “The Rights of Children – a Photo Essay” which is available on UNICEF’s website for the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: www.unicef.org/rightsite/
Matthew 18: 1-5; 19; 13-14
LEADER: In the name of God, creator and lover of us all: Peace be with you
All: And also with you
CANDLE LIGHTING CEREMONY
Candles may be arranged in a wreath around a globe, symbol or picture
LEADER: We light these candles for children everywhere and commit ourselves to ending corporal punishment and all forms of violence against children.
People may come forward to light a candle.
ALL: Compassionate God
Hear our prayers for all your children who are suffering through
the unseen cruelty of others.
Look with kindness and compassion on all those who are mistreated.
When they feel abandoned, give them hope. When they feel unloved and betrayed give them courage, comfort and peace.
Bless all those who care for them and who work to bring rescue and relief.
Give us the courage to speak out against all that harms the bodies and minds of your children, so that love will triumph over fear and light shine in the darkness. AMEN
A REFLECTION OR ADDRESS
Jesus taught us how to make the world more compassionate and just for children; he taught about a social world in part defined by children.
In his words and actions Jesus turned the first-century view of children as the property of adults, upside down.
By blessing and laying his hands on children Jesus received children as people in their own right; he gave them dignity, status and respect.
(Optional) WASHING OF THE CHILDREN’S FEET
or a symbolic act of respect for children
We wash the children’s feet as a mark of respect for all children
A light from the candle wreath may be passed around from person to person
You may wish to process with lighted candles and continue the vigil outside
LEADER: Go out into this world with hope and peace; seek that which is good; do not repay violence with violence; strengthen the downhearted; support the vulnerable; stand with those who are suffering; challenge injustice; honour all people and rejoice in the Holy Spirit.
And may the blessing of God be with us all. Amen
The United Nations Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children
The site has links to a number of resources including the World Report on Violence Against Children, a photo essay Stopping the Violence, and a video Youth against Violence, with contributions from young people in India, Philippines, Romania, Venezuela and Zambia.
A Child Friendly Reportand Video can be downloaded at:
Positive Discipline: What it is and how to do it, by Joan Durrant, published by Save the Children, 2009. Download the manual, executive summary and a video interview with the author at:
Parenting for a Peaceful Worldby Robin Grille
Download the video which is narrated by Ajas Swafford aged 10 years and traces the history of violent treatment of children from early times and discusses the negative effects of violence on generations of children.
Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/
Aims to speed the end of corporal punishment of children across the world. The website contains information on all aspects of prohibiting corporal punishment of children including an up-to-date account of global progress.
Organisations and individuals are invited to sign up their support
The Global Initiative Children’s Area: http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/children
Churches’ Network for Non-violence (CNNV)
The Churches’ Network for Non-violence was formed to broaden religious support for law reform to end corporal punishment and other cruel and humiliating forms of violence against children and to challenge faith-based justification for it. CNNV aims to work with others towards developing a network of support, practical resources and information and to encourage religious communities to play an active role in the movement for reform.