SEATTLE — On October 31, 2017, the K-pop boy band BTS announced its partnership with UNICEF in a campaign to end violence against children. BTS’ LOVE MYSELF campaign is a complementary offshoot of UNICEF’s #ENDViolence campaign, which began in September 2013. The shared goal of LOVE MYSELF and #ENDViolence is to protect the world’s children from violence, exploitation and abuse.
Violence against children is a global epidemic. It occurs in every country, but evidence shows it is more rampant in impoverished regions, where the stress of low socio-economic status tends to breed violence. In these areas, violence occurs in children’s homes, schools and other institutions. According to data collected by UNICEF, between 20 and 65 percent of school-age children in the developing world report being abused in school.
Trafficking, child labor and coerced recruitment into combat are some of the most well known affronts to the rights of children. UNICEF’s ENDViolence initiative attempts to address not only these acts of publicized violence against children, but also less-recognized violence. In many countries, corporal punishment for children as well as cultural practices that cause bodily harm are legally supported. UNICEF has attempted to eliminate institutionally sustained violence against children by encouraging states around the world to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. This document is essentially a promise made by nations to protect their youth against various types of abuse.
As part of the LOVE MYSELF campaign, BTS has pledged to donate nearly $500,000 to UNICEF’s ENDViolence initiative. In addition to this generous donation, BTS will also contribute three percent of its album sales and 100 percent of its Love Myself merchandise profits to UNICEF over the next two years. These funds will facilitate the creation of UNICEF-supported programs like the Be a Champion for Children Campaign in Kenya, which provides support hotlines for abused children, as well as other resources to prevent violence against children.
BTS’ LOVE MYSELF campaign is a philanthropic exploration of the group’s artistic message. Many of its songs revolve around the struggles of youth and seek to inspire and empower young fans, also known as ARMYs (Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth). The campaign’s name even coordinates with the title of BTS’s newest album, “Love Yourself: Her.”
BTS has an impressive digital following. This November, the group reached 10 million Twitter followers and, in May, it was awarded the Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards. BTS’s platform provides the ability to reach millions of people worldwide. It is commendable that the group is using its digital influence to educate people about violence against children and raise awareness about UNICEF’s pursuit to end it.
– Mary Efird