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Violence against children

Violence against children

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.

Publications

School-Related Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: Building an evidence base for stronger schools
Publication Publication

School-Related Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: Building an evidence base for stronger schools

The prevalence of school-related violence and, in particular, bullying is not a new or isolated phenomenon, nor is it limited to certain schools or countries. Abundant evidence indicates that bullying is widespread and has a negative impact on educational outcomes. Children who are victims of bullying can also be affected emotionally and physically in both the short and long terms. Evidence from low- and middle-income countries on bullying is less extensive when compared to the evidence available on predictors and effects of bullying from high-income countries. However, some findings for the Latin American and Caribbean region seem to suggest a similar picture, with a high prevalence of bullying victimization and association to lower reading scores in different subjects tested. This working paper first uses data from UNESCO’s Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study for nationally representative samples of sixth grade students to determine the prevalence of bullying and its association to learning outcomes in 15 countries of the LAC region. It then looks at interventions in countries of the region to mitigate the impacts of violence.
Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 1: Laws, crime and justice
Publication Publication

Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 1: Laws, crime and justice

The production of evidence on interventions for reducing violence against children (VAC) has steadily increased over the years. Yet, gaps exist that need to be addressed when it comes to research investment priorities and future studies. An Evidence Gap Map provides an overview of available evidence on the topic and eight briefs summarize the findings. This brief focuses on ‘Laws, crime and justice’ interventions to reduce violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. All technical details can be reviewed in the main report.
Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 2: Norms and values
Publication Publication

Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 2: Norms and values

The production of evidence on interventions for reducing violence against children (VAC) has steadily increased over the years. Yet, gaps exist that need to be addressed when it comes to research investment priorities and future studies. An Evidence Gap Map provides an overview of available evidence on the topic and eight briefs summarize the findings. This brief focuses on ‘Norms and values’ interventions to reduce violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. All technical details can be reviewed in the main report.

Blogs

Five ways governments are responding to violence against women and children during COVID-19
Blog Blog

Five ways governments are responding to violence against women and children during COVID-19

While the world may have been caught off guard by the size and ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, it should be prepared to respond to the increased risks to the wellbeing and safety of children and women. Violence against children and violence against women are widespread globally and intrinsically linked, sharing common risk factors and similar adverse and severe consequences. The literature within pandemics may be limited, but we have enough evidence to say unequivocally that related factors—such as confinement, social isolation, increased levels of financial stress, and weak institutional responses—can increase or intensify levels of violence.

Journal Articles

COVID-19 response measures and violence against children
Journal Article Journal Article

COVID-19 response measures and violence against children

In the early stages of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, children were described as invisible carriers who posed a risk of infection to others. Here we outline how responses to COVID-19 may increase children’s exposure to violence and neglect. We also highlight ongoing efforts to address violence against children and argue for continued action and research on violence prevention within the COVID-19 response.
Modelling the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Discipline Against Children
Journal Article Journal Article

Modelling the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Discipline Against Children

The COVID-19 pandemic could increase violence against children at home. However, collecting empirical data on violence is challenging due to ethical, safety, and data quality concerns. This study estimated the anticipated effect of COVID-19 on violent discipline at home using multivariable predictive regression models. Under a “high restrictions” scenario there would be a 35% to 46% increase in violent discipline scores in Nigeria, Mongolia and Suriname, and under a “lower restrictions” scenario there would be between a 4% to 6% increase in violent discipline scores in these countries. Policy makers need to plan for increases in violent discipline during successive waves of lockdowns.

Events

Promoting an understanding of the intersection between violence against women and children
Event Event

Promoting an understanding of the intersection between violence against women and children

On 22 September Alessandra Guedes discusses the intersection between violence against women and children.
Violence in the home before, during and after COVID-19
Event Event

Violence in the home before, during and after COVID-19

On Thursday 21 May at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti launches the second webinar series of “Leading Minds Online What the Experts Say- Coronavirus and Children: Violence in the Home”.
Bridging the Gaps: Reviewing the intersections of violence against women and violence against children
Event Event

Bridging the Gaps: Reviewing the intersections of violence against women and violence against children

12 March 2020 - Evidence on the points of intersection of the two forms of violence that follow parallel but distinct trajectories.

Project team

Alessandra Guedes

UNICEF Innocenti

Ramya Subrahmanian

UNICEF Innocenti

Partners

Videos

Related

Innocenti Project(s) 2014-2015:

The best interests principle in intercountry adoption

Innocenti Project(s) 2013:

Determinants, social norms, and violence

ICTs and children

What does the evidence say about the impact of social transfers on child protection outcomes

Innocenti Project(s) 2010-2012:

Adoption and alternative care

Sexual abuse and exploitation of children through the Internet and other information and communication technologies

Social norms, harmful practices and behavioural change

Innocenti Project(s) 2006-2009:

Harmful practices and social norms

PROJECTS ARCHIVE

Conference and meetings

Promoting an understanding of the intersection between violence against women and children

Violence in the home before, during and after COVID-19

Gender and the Evidence Functions in Social Development

Bridging the Gaps: Reviewing the intersections of violence against women and violence against children

Global Frameworks: How do INSPIRE and RESPECT support an intersectional approach?

Blogs

Five ways governments are responding to violence against women and children during COVID-19

Podcasts

Rigour & Vigour: Strengthening evidence on violence against children

Impact of COVID measures on VAW and VAC (in Portuguese)

Journal articles

Modelling the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Discipline Against Children

Interventions for reducing violence against children in low‐ and middle‐income countries: An evidence and gap map

COVID-19 response measures and violence against children

Related Innocenti publications

Rapid Review on Pandemics, Epidemics and Child Protection

Reports

Research on violence against children during the COVID-19 pandemic

Think Pieces

Violence in Times of Coronavirus—The Ugly Truth

Remote data collection on violence against children during COVID-19: A conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics (Part 2)

Remote data collection on violence against women during COVID-19: A conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics (Part 1)

Data browser

Interventions for reducing violence against children: An evidence and gap map in low- and middle-income countries

What's new

Mapping What We Know About Ending Violence Against Children

5 Questions on Research on Violence against Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic

External website

Countering the pandemic of gender-based violence and maltreatment of young people: The Lancet Commission

Global Shared Research Agenda Violence Against Women and Girls

The Prevention Collaborative

WHO Violence against women

WHO Violence and Injury Prevention