Violence against children: A global problem

Photographer: Daniel van Moll

Violence against children is one of the biggest problems affecting families and societies. It happens all around the world, in all countries and societies; all too often it happens in the family. Read on to learn more about the problem of violence against children and effective approaches to ending it.

International law clearly establishes every child’s right to protection against violence. That right is underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Guidlines for the Alternative Care of Children and the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Yet violence against children persists. Often, it remains hidden. Many cases are not reported or investigated.

The many faces of violence against children

Violence against children has many faces and forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, emotional abuse, and more.
 

  • Every five minutes a child dies from violence. [The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children 2016]
  • One billion children – over half of all children aged 2 to 17 – are estimated to have experienced emotional, physical and/or sexual violence. [WHO 2016]

  • One in 10 girls – 120 million – under the age of 20 has been subjected to forced sexual acts. [UNICEF 2014]

  • Nearly one in 10 children – 250 million worldwide – lives in a country affected by conflict. [UNICEF 2016]

  • At least one in six children entering an SOS Children’s Villages’ programme has previously experienced violence.

Risk factors for experiencing violence

Our experience and research show that children who are inadequately protected and cared for are at a higher risk of experiencing violence.
 


Devastating impact of violence

Violence can affect a child for the rest of their life, with severe consequences for a child’s physical, psychological and mental health. Without adequate support and care, violence and trauma can have long-term effects on a child’s development and future life.

Children who have experienced violence are also more likely to perpetuate the circle of violence, passing on patterns of violence to their peers or to future generations.

Therefore, ending violence against children is not only important for each child’s rights, but also for healthy communities and societies.

Ending violence against children

Putting an end to all forms of violence – in families, at school, in communities, and in fragile states torn by conflict – is of crucial importance for children’s rights and well-being, and for a sustainable future.

SOS Children’s Villages works in a range of ways to help prevent and adequately respond to all forms of violence against children and adolescents and supports society to do so as well:
 
  • Supporting and strengthening families to foster stable and positive relationships
  • Empowering communities and raising awareness among national and community stakeholders to create safer environments for children
  • Strengthen support networks to help others respond appropriately to cases of child abuse and risks of violence
  • Providing nurturing environments and quality care to facilitate recovery and resilience of children who have experienced violence
  • Supporting care professionals so they can keep children from harm and help children who have suffered violence overcome their trauma
  • Child safeguarding through faithful implementation of the International Child Safeguarding Standards and providing safe ways to report abuse  
SOS Children's Villages has also joined UNICEF and other key partners to establish the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, an advocacy initiative bringing together stakeholders from different areas to work together to end violence against children.