400 Million Under-Fives Regularly Experience Violent Discipline at Home

under-fives regularly experience violent discipline at home

On 11 June 2024, UNICEF released alarming data revealing that six in ten children under five face psychological aggression or physical punishment at home. Nearly 400 million young children are affected, with 330 million experiencing physical punishment. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell highlighted the detrimental impact of such abuse on children’s development.

The data, released on the first International Day of Play (IDOP), underscores the lack of play, stimulation, and interaction that many children face. UNICEF calls for stronger legal protections, increased investment in parenting programs, and enhanced play spaces to support child development.

Despite growing prohibitions against physical punishment, about half a billion under-fives lack adequate legal protection. Harmful social norms continue to perpetuate violent discipline, with one in four caregivers believing physical punishment is necessary. Additionally, four in ten children aged two to four do not receive sufficient stimulation at home, leading to emotional neglect and potential long-term issues.

The IDOP highlights the vital role of play in cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. It also addresses barriers to play, such as disabilities, gender discrimination, conflict, and learning poverty. UNICEF urges governments to strengthen legal and policy frameworks, expand parenting programs, and increase access to play spaces.

“On the first International Day of Play, we must unite to end violence against children and promote positive, nurturing caregiving,” said Russell.

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