Nigeria is the first country to undertake and launch the Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) in West Africa. The Summary Report of Nigeria’s Violence against Children Survey was released in September 2015, with a full report to be launched in early 2016. The summary report assessed levels of violence (physical, sexual and emotional) against girls and boys, whether children are seeking services, and the consequences of childhood violence.

The key findings include:

  • 60 percent of children experienced one or more forms of violence before the age of 18 years
  • Physical violence in childhood was the most common type of violence reported and approximately half of females and males experienced physical violence before the age of 18 years. Of those. 1 in 10 first experience physical violence before the age of 5 and 80 percent experience multiple incidents of violence.
  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 years.
  • A third of girls experienced their first incident of sexual violence* between 14 and 15, while almost a third of boys experienced their first incident of sexual violence at 13 years and below
  • Girls’ first experience of sexual violence is most commonly a romantic partner, followed by a friend, neighbour, classmate and stranger. Boys’ first experience of sexual violence is most commonly a classmate or a neighbour
  • Females were significantly more likely to report that their first experience of sexual intercourse in childhood was forced. For those whose first sexual intercourse was prior to age 18, 26 percent of females reported their first sexual intercourse as forced compared to 9.6 percent of males
  • 1 in 5 boys and 1 in 6 girls experienced emotional violence
  • The vast majority of children never tell anyone what has happened to them. Of those children who do speak out, they are much more likely to tell a friend or relative than a service provider or authority figure
  • Of those who experienced sexual or physical violence, no more than 6 percent sought help and less than 5 percent received help

In response to the survey findings, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria launched the Year of Action to End Violence against Children on 15th September 2015. This was a call to action for not only federal and state ministries and agencies, but also for NGOs, FBOs, media, communities, parents and children to join together to prevent and respond to physical, sexual and emotional violence.

Strong commitments were made to take action to end violence against children, including by the President, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief Judge of Federal Capital Territory, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Children’s Parliament, UNICEF, the U.S. Mission, the CSO consortium, Sultan of Sokoto and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, as well as the hosts, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

Next steps include:

  • Adopt and implement laws that prevent and respond to violence
  • Advocate for the passage and implementation Child Rights Act (CRA) 2003, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) 2015 and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in all states
  • Enhance and scale up efforts to prevent violence through: creating a protective environment for children; changing perceptions of violence; empowering children and young people
    • Develop a national policy on violence-free basic education, including instituting a mandatory reporting and referral mechanism
    • Promote and establish community care centers that are standardized, regulated and affordable for parents, using the National Guidelines for the Establishment and Management of Care Centers in Nigeria
    • Develop a parent-child communication training manual on sexuality and on the health implications of violence against children
    • Strengthen community structures that promote child protection, including community-improvement teams, child-protection committees and school-based management committees
  • Enhance response to violence through: encouraging children to speak out; enhancing access to services; improving availability and quality of services; enhancing the capacity of professionals working with children; and strengthening efforts to hold perpetrators accountable
    • Introduce/strengthen Guidance and Counselling Units in all primary and secondary schools
    • Create safe spaces in places of worships and local communities where children who have experienced violence can seek and receive help
    • Strengthen the capacity of health workers to collect and store forensic evidence
    • Ensure the operation of specialist units in every police station, staffed by police officers with the skills and knowledge to effectively and appropriately handle children’s cases
    • Establish Family Courts in every State
  • Increase investment in child protection
    • Undertake a study on the cost of violence against children in Nigeria
    • Develop budgeting guidelines for child protection
  • Strengthen research, monitoring and evaluation on violence against children
    • Undertake a study on drivers of violence and barriers to accessing services
    • Establish a national child protection management information system
  • Nigeria recently launched a campaign to End Violence Against Children by 2030, and a progress report on work in 2015 and 2016


Government: National Population Commission, Federal and State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria Prisons Service, National Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Information, National Orientation Agency, Judiciary, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons, National Emergency Management Agency and National Bureau of Statistics.

Non-Government: Religious and traditional leaders, faith based groups, civil society organizations, and the media.

Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations: USAID, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women, WHO, UNODC and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention (CDC/DVP).

*For the purpose of the Nigeria VACS, sexual violence was used to describe all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. This encompasses a range of acts, including unwanted completed sex acts. (i.e., rape), attempted non-consensual sex acts, abusive sexual contact (i.e., unwanted touching), and pressured sex (such as through threats and tricks), by any person regardless of their relationship to the child experiencing the violence, in any setting.

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