Violence against children: a global problem

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, 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 minutesa 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.

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