Violence against children

Protecting children from violence, neglect, exploitation and abuse

Children on the move programme cover
UNICEF Myanmar/2017/Patrick Brown

The challenge

Violence against children takes many forms. It includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect or deprivation. 

Violence occurs in many settings. It can happen in the home, at school, and in the community. Perpetrators can include family members, intimate partners, peers, teachers, neighbours or strangers. 

When perpetrators inflict harm, pain and humiliation on children they not only cause serious suffering, they hinder a child’s development.

Beyond the tragic effects on individuals and families, violence against children carries serious economic and social costs in lost potential and reduced productivity.

Around the world there is a growing awareness of the need to examine patterns of violence against children, as well as attitudes and norms that contribute to the problem.

UNICEF Myanmar/2016/Daniele Romeo

All children have the right to protection from violence, neglect, exploitation and abuse.

In Myanmar as in many countries, robust and quality data to inform fuller understanding of the issues and offer clues to prevention is still limited. The complex set of challenges that Myanmar faces – including conflicts, natural disasters and poverty, combined with some social norms and attitudes – increase child vulnerability and underscores the need for a wide response that will benefit not just individual children but national growth and development. 

The solution

Comprehensive child protection policies and systems, including effective social work, are the best way for countries to prevent and respond to violence, neglect and abuse affecting children.

While Myanmar has a long way to go, progress has been made. With UNICEF support, Myanmar took the important step to invest in the National Social Protection Strategy in 2014. The plan, which is still in the early stages of implementation, introduces social work case management as a key pillar. UNICEF is supporting the Government to train and equip child protection case managers at the township level, and to ensure that officials and non-government organization staff have the tools and resources they need.

UNICEF Myanmar/2016/Daniele Romeo

In 2018, UNICEF supported the Government to strengthen and expand the child protection case management system to 49 townships, with more than 100 government and NGO social work case managers trained and deployed to the field.

UNICEF is also working with partners to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and justice systems to provide child friendly and gender-sensitive approaches when working with children in contact with the law. 

Together with partners, we also work to strengthen public awareness to help prevent child sexual abuse and violence, and to support public demand for services. The existing data shows adolescent girls (age 15 - 19 years) are less likely to disclose violence they experienced than their adult counterparts. Also, help-seeking is substantially lower among adolescent girls compared with other age groups. UNICEF’s violence prevention programme will be guided by evidence – and downstream interventions will be tracked and measured to determine their effectiveness.