Millie Bobby Brown and David Beckham have called on world leaders to uphold children’s rights.
The stars, who are Unicef Goodwill Ambassadors, hosted a global summit at the UN headquarters in New York.
Stranger Things actress Brown, who at 15 is Unicef’s youngest Goodwill Ambassador, spoke about an issue that is “very personal to me. Something that so often goes unnoticed – but causes real suffering. Bullying.
“Like David, I’ve been very lucky in my life. I take nothing for granted. But I also know what it feels like to be vulnerable,” she said.
“At school, I was bullied by a group of students. I remember feeling helpless. School used to be a safe place. Now I was scared to go.
“I was lucky. With the help of my friends, family and people around me, I was able to overcome these negative feelings and take my power back.
“But millions of children aren’t so lucky. They’re still struggling in the darkness. Wrestling with fear. With insecurity.”
Brown said: “Bullying and online threats are never harmless. Never just words. It puts children’s mental health at risk. It causes stress.
“And in the most extreme cases, and in areas around the world where conflict and violence are daily threats, it can lead to self-harm. Sickness. And even suicide.”
“In my role as Goodwill Ambassador, I will continue talking about this issue wherever I go.”
Speaking on World Children’s Day, she called for “real change… policies, programmes, laws and investments that keep children safe.”
Beckham, 44, said in his speech: “As leaders, as public figures, as parents, and of course, as human beings, we must do more to protect children’s dreams. Because the future doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to children.”
UN member states have been asked to align themselves to a Global Pledge promising to renew their commitment to the Convention On The Rights Of The Child and implement child rights fit for the 21st century.
Unicef’s executive director Henrietta Fore said: “Around the world, children and young people are taking the lead and demanding urgent action on the issues they care about, like the climate crisis, the rise of mental illness and the lack of opportunities.
“This World Children’s Day provides world leaders with a momentous opportunity to heed these calls and recommit to the rights of every child, now and for future generations.”
More information on Unicef UK’s World Children’s Day is at www.unicef.org.uk/change-the-world.