More than half the world’s children – one billion children – report having experienced some form of violence in a previous year. Combined with what we know about the negative consequences of violence on children’s health and wellbeing, its impacts on education and the economy, and its long-lasting effects throughout childhood and well into adulthood, it is crucial that evidence-informed actions are taken at all levels to end VAC.
Children’s experiences of violence stay with them through to adulthood, with knock-on effects for the next generation. Recognising this, UNICEF Innocenti also examines violence across the life course. Given the clear sex differences in violence levels, patterns, and risk factors, a gender transformative approach is essential when examining violence across the life course. Such an approach places at the centre of inquiry the causes of gender inequality and works to transform harmful gender roles, norms, and power imbalances that underpin the perpetration and experience of violence.
UNICEF Innocenti conducts and supports evidence generation in relation to VAC in several ways:
- generating new knowledge to guide action;
- increasing awareness and use of existing evidence;
- strengthening capacity for evidence generation;
- strengthening research networks;
- exploring the impact of COVID-19 on violence.
Addressing the intersections between violence against children and violence against women
Violence against children (VAC) and violence against women (VAW) are critical global human rights and public health problems that impede development. Violence and its consequences affect children, adolescents, and women across their lifetimes. Overlapping forms of oppression and discrimination—based on gender, ethnicity, class, migratory or disability status, etc. —amplify vulnerabilities to violence.
Although the fields of VAC and VAW developed separately, evidence highlights multiple intersections between the two, including shared risk factors, common underlying social norms, co-occurrence, intergenerational effects, common and compounding consequences, and adolescence as a vulnerable period and opportunity for prevention of both VAC and VAW. These multiple and complex links suggest that greater collaboration may increase the effectiveness of efforts to prevent and respond to both VAC and VAW.
While evidence on the intersections of VAW and VAC has grown in recent years, important gaps remain, including on how best to coordinate prevention and response efforts so that these meet the needs of children and women. UNICEF Office of Research Innocenti seeks to fill these gaps by producing actionable evidence that will enable UNICEF and other key actors to increase collaboration in ways that respond to the intersections, increase the effectiveness of interventions, and promote the wellbeing of women and children across the life course.