The scale of violence against children has reached epidemic proportions. Every year, nearly one billion children globally are exposed to some form of violence or exploitation—whether it’s experiencing violence directly or witnessing it in their communities.
National-level data on violence against children obtained from surveys conducted by Together for Girls’ country and organizational partners show:
- About one in three girls and one in seven boys experience sexual violence as children.
- More than 50 percent of children overall experience some form of physical violence.
- More than one in five girls first sexual intercourse was unwanted.
Where does violence typically occur?
Sexual, physical and emotional violence touches children in virtually every community—from rich and poor to urban and rural—but the problem is often masked by silence. Our surveys show that violence mostly happens in a home. Children are often also at risk at school or when traveling back and forth from school. Often the places we expect children to be the safest are where they are actually at the most risk.
What are the consequences of violence against children?
Children who experience violence are often trapped in a vicious cycle. They suffer immediately and into the future and are more likely to be victimized again later in life or to hurt others, such as their partners or children. These consequences impact directly our ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
For example, girls who experience sexual violence are three times more likely to be HIV positive as an adult and are less likely to go to school, which affects their prospects of earning an income. They are also three times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy and girls under 15 who have experienced sexual violence are five times more likely to die in childbirth.
Children who experience violence also are more likely to suffer several other psychological, health and financial consequences.
As this violence continues in our homes, schools and communities, we all pay the price. To break the cycle of violence and its consequences, we must bring the issue out into the open and ensure all children have an opportunity to grow up safe, healthy and valued.