Violence against children and young people is a fundamental violation of their rights. Sexual, physical and emotional violence have a devastating impact on health and happiness and prevent children and youth from contributing to societies to their full potential.
In Rwanda, over half of all girls and six out of ten boys experience some form of violence during childhood. Children are usually abused by people they know – parents, neighbours, teachers, romantic partners or friends. Only around 60 per cent of girls in Rwanda who are victims of violence tell someone about it, and the rate is even lower for boys.
In many cases, children and young people do not seek help because they feel violence is their fault or is not a problem. Many also believe that women should tolerate violence, especially to keep the family together, and that men should hold the power in sexual relationships.
Violence causes emotional scars that often last much longer after the physical scars fade.
When children are victims of violence, they are more likely to abuse other children and to carry this violent behaviour into adulthood. Violence during childhood can also lead to mental distress, early pregnancy, sexual risk-taking, and even thoughts of suicide.
Urgent action is needed to respond to the violence inflicted on children and young people.