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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:

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.

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.

LATEST INNOCENTI PUBLICATIONS

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. This brief summarizes the key findings from the Evidence and Gap Map (EGM) on interventions to reduce violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. All technical details can be reviewed in the main report.

AUTHOR(S)

Ashrita Saran; Ramya Subrahmanian; Howard White

MORE PUBLICATIONS

Project team

Alessandra Guedes; Ramya Subrahmanian


Partner organizations

Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action: Assessment, Measurement and Evidence Working Group

Children's Institute - University of Cape Town

Global Partnership to End Violence against Children

Sexual Violence Research Initiative

UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children


Videos

Evidence & Gap Map on Interventions to Reduce Violence Against Children

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

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


Related Innocenti Projects

2014-2015

The best interests principle in intercountry adoption


2013

Determinants, social norms, and violence

ICTs and children

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


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


2006-2009

Harmful practices and social norms

PROJECTS ARCHIVE