End Violence Against Children

Every child needs a carefree childhood that is completely free from violence, exploitation and abuse

A child wearing a hoodie looks carefully and sheepishly while standing in front of a poster of a child with a football
UNICEF/2017/Georgiev

The challenge

Violence impedes children’s development, learning abilities and school achievement. It constrains relationships, contributes to low self-esteem, emotional distress and depression. It leads to risk taking, self-harm and aggressive behaviour and ultimately economic impact for society, reducing human capacity and compromising social capital.

Yet, as in many parts of the world, violence remains a reality for children in the country. Insufficient empirical data exists on the incidence, prevalence and typology of violence involving children in the country. But, the data that is available shows that many children are at risk of violence.

Unreported violence against children remains unsanctioned

As many as 4 out of 5 children in the country face violence from their parents, according to a UNICEF study. Even though more than 2/3 of parents are aware of the negative effects of violent methods for disciplining children, children are too often exposed to at least one form of violence within their homes, from psychological aggression, to minor or severe physical punishment.

Violence in schools is not sufficiently monitored and it is underreported; data is scarce. However, it is believed that as many as 40% of boys and 15% of girls have been involved in violent confrontations with their peers. 

Children living on the street and children cared for in an institution are considered to be at even greater risk of violence. Currently, it is estimated that there are some 1,000 children on the streets throughout the country, while more than 100 are living in institutions.

Unmeasured problems are left unresolved. Too often, violence is not monitored properly and unreported. This also leaves those that do act violently unsanctioned, contributing for continuing high tolerance of violence towards children in the society.

Protection of children from violence is a fundamental right of every child

While a number of legislative and policy frameworks exist regarding violence against children in the country, including the relatively new Justice for Children Law (2013) and the Law on Prevention, Deterrence and Protection against Domestic Violence (2015), the provisions of these laws are often not implemented fully.

All of these factors leave too many children at greater risk of violence that can hamper their physical and mental development, their happiness, health and success in life. And for UNICEF, that simply put is unacceptable.

The solution

UNICEF supports efforts to end violence against children. Together with partners, we are committed to improve prevention of and response to violence and abuse of boys and girls, through strengthening national systems, improving legislation and increasing quality services for detection, referral and response.

We foster greater collaboration among key sectors, including health, education, justice and social protection at national and at local levels.  To improve coordination among relevant sectors, we are supporting the development of multi-agency response services addressing legal, medical, psychological, educational and social needs of child victims of violence and abuse. Additionally, we support child protection professionals to better prevent and respond to violence against children and to ensure access to justice and child friendly justice.

UNICEF also promotes a positive parenting approach to help parents improve their parenting practices. Evidence shows that positive parenting programmes worldwide have great results for child development, but they have benefits for parents too: parents become less stressed, less angry, less depressed, have less conflict with their partners, and improve their capacity to function at work.

Finally, we are working on increasing awareness and dialogue about violence, promoting protective social norms, garnering commitment, and encouraging action by government, communities, families and children themselves, to end violence against children!