The World Health Organization defines violence against children as including all forms of violence against people under 18 years old, whether perpetrated by parents or other caregivers, peers, partners, or strangers. Violence against children can take several forms such as maltreatment, bullying, sexual violence or even emotional or psychological violence. If any of these forms of violence is directed against girls or boys because of their biological sex or gender identity, it will be considered gender-based violence.

  • Children’s rights: art 19, UN CRC. Children have the right to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.
    Indrectly: art 6, UN CRC. Children have the right to life and to survive and develop to the maximum extent possible.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels


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What is the problem with violence towards children?
While violence is not unknown to any age or gender group, children are in particular more vulnerable to it compared to adults. Children’s physical features and their inability to properly defend themselves results in them being easy targets for violence. If violence happens in the child’s own home behind closed doors it is often is overlooked by peers, neighbors or teachers. Additionally, when it comes to armed conflicts across the world, children are not spared from being victims to the extreme violence, often suffering more than adults. Globally, it is estimated that up to 1 billion children aged 2–17 years, have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the period 2018-2019. 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.

Why is protection against violence important for children?
Due to children still being in their development phase, the trauma and the mental effects of violence can impact a child’s mindset and personal growth well into adulthood. These consequences that originate from violence, especially if they are not isolated incidents, can impacts a child’s social skills, their mentality and ability to learn and therefore put under serious threat their personal development. Additionally, children who are exposed to violence at a young age tend to show aggressive tendencies and are likely to commit violent acts themselves.

What can you do?

  • Learn about the rights you have as a child in order to be able to protect yourself and others
  • Find the right authorities that can help in situations of child violence
  • Report to the state authorities any situation of violence that you encounter – stand up for your fellow children! If you see it happen in public step forward and protect the child or call law enforcement. If you notice signs that a child you know might be exposed to violence at home by parents or a caretaker don’t hesitate to contact child protection services.