During the course of my humanitarian work in Syria, I have listened to many children share their perspectives. The death of family members, whether siblings or a parent or other loved one is common. Being displaced from their homes, often more than once, and finding their friends and communities snatched away. Memories of repeated attacks from warring parties that flattened whole neighborhoods, fires that raged through the night stay with them.
I was part of a recent humanitarian mission that delivered emergency assistance to children and families in six hard-to-reach villages in northwestern Aleppo governorate. For some families living in this remote area near the Turkish border, it had been almost two years since they had received humanitarian supplies...
During my visit to the Unicef-supported Basic Education School for displaced grade one to four children at the Aleppo University I met a number of confident, upbeat children, not shy to ask tough questions... As a mother, I could not hold back my tears when a young girl got up and asked me: "When will this war end?"
I think there's a sense that these men thought they had not done anything wrong at all. A belief that these girls really wanted it anyway, that they would do anything for fame (and this was the deal) and that they were probably "damaged goods" because they didn't say no, or didn't say it loudly or clearly enough, or in a way that they really meant no.
At Action for Children, we have reached a huge milestone - following our three-year campaign and thanks to the Ministry of Justice, the legal definition of child cruelty will include emotional as well as physical harm. This new law will change lives. I've met children and young people who have suffered intolerable emotional abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to love them most.
Government plans to use a central image database to identify abusers and their victims are welcome and with millions of these images already in circulation, there is no time to waste. Reports that a growing number of young children are subject to perverse sexual abuse through online imagery are truly appalling.
How about a resolution that will change other people's lives and yours too? ChildLine is urgently seeking volunteers to go into schools to talk directly with nine-11-year-old children about different forms of abuse and about staying safe. You don't need any previous experience and you will be given first class training and support.
"If only someone had listened..." is the final report of the Office of the Children's Commissioner's two-year national inquiry into child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups, and presents a compelling case for a "sea change" in the culture of children's services so victims' needs are prioritised...
It's absolutely right that the national media crawl all over what happened to Hamzah Khan. Anyone who cares about children will be horrified by the detail of his suffering and will see clearly many moments when he might have been noticed. But it's not enough simply to cry that "lessons must be learned". We must ensure that they are.
Imagine you were desperate to tell people about something but when you tried no sound came out. Like you'd had some awful spell cast on you that meant only you could hear the words. That's how I think it might feel to be a child who has suffered abuse but struggles to find adults who will act upon their concerns.
Following the conviction of Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek for the murder of four-year-old Daniel Pelka, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: "his death should be on all of our consciences." This is not a sentiment likely to be echoed by the media or the general public, who perhaps understandably lay the blame squarely on the professionals whose job it is to protect children. In the media blitz that accompanied the conviction, Mr Clegg and former children's minister Tim Loughton rushed to reassure the public that the government is doing everything possible to "reduce complexity and bureaucracy" in the child protection system, and that deaths like Daniel's are isolated cases. Government spin belies the reality of child protection.
It is both right and proper that stringent measures should be put in place to put an end to child pornography online. But Vince Cable's reactionary plan for Google and other search engines to police content in the wake of the convictions of Mark Bridger and Stuart Hazell is at best oversimplifying a very complex issue and at worst, a cynical ploy to absolve the coalition government of any immediate responsibility.