Video, A man brutally torturing a child
- Violence against children includes all forms of violence against people under 18 years old, whether perpetrated by parents or other caregivers, peers, romantic partners, or strangers.
- 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 past year.
- Experiencing violence in childhood impacts lifelong health and well-being.
Target 16.2 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against, and torture of, children”.
- Evidence from around the world shows that violence against children can be prevented.
Types of violence against children
- Most violence against children involves at least one of six main types of interpersonal violence that tend to occur at different stages in a child’s development.
Impact of violence
Violence against children has lifelong impacts on health and well-being of children, families, communities, and nations. Violence against children can:
Result in death. Homicide, which often involves weapons such as knives and firearms, is among the top three causes of death in adolescents, with boys comprising over 80% of victims and perpetrators.
Lead to severe injuries. For every homicide, there are hundreds of predominantly male victims of youth violence who sustain injuries because of physical fighting and assault.
Impair brain and nervous system development. Exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and damage other parts of the nervous system, as well as the endocrine, circulatory, musculoskeletal, reproductive, respiratory and immune systems, with lifelong consequences. As such, violence against children can negatively affect cognitive development and results in educational and vocational under-achievement.
Result in negative coping and health risk behaviors. Children exposed to violence and other adversities are substantially more likely to smoke, misuse alcohol and drugs, and engage in high-risk sexual behavior. They also have higher rates of anxiety, depression, other mental health problems and suicide.
Lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Contribute to a wide range of non-communicable diseases as children grow older. The increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health conditions is largely due to the negative coping and health risk behaviors associated with violence.
Impact opportunities and future generations. Children exposed to violence and other adversities are more likely to drop out of school, have difficulty finding and keeping a job, and are at heightened risk for later victimization and / or perpetration of interpersonal and self-directed violence, by which violence against children can affect the next generation.