The Government of El Salvador Launches Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) Report

The Government of El Salvador Launches Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) Report

On May 15, 2019, the Government of El Salvador launched the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS), the second VACS report published in Latin America. In El Salvador, the VACS process was led by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


Representatives from government, multilateral and civil society partners attend the VACS report launch event in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Photo credit: IOM El Salvador

The El Salvador VACS report provides never-before seen data on the prevalence, nature and consequences of violence against Salvadoran children and youth, including insights on sexual violence and its relationship to children’s lifelong health outcomes. The El Salvador VACS report is the second of the forthcoming Latin American reports to study migration, after the Government of Honduras launched their survey report on May 8. To learn more about the results of the El Salvador survey, view the VACS report here.

A Historic Launch

During the high-level launch event in San Salvador, Raúl Antonio López, Vice Minister of Security of the Ministry of Justice and Security gave remarks on the importance of this study to inform policies and actions that will address violence against children in El Salvador.


“This information should alert the entire country to how physical and sexual violence affects children,” said López.


Vice Minister López providing remarks at the VACS report launch in San Salvador.

Photo credit: Ministry of Justice and Public Security, El Salvador

The report launch was attended by Marta Santos Pais, the United Nations’ Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence Against Children (SRSG-VAC). In her remarks, SRSG Santos Pais recognized the VACS report as a key part in El Salvador’s ongoing work to address violence against children within the country.


“The United Nations recognizes this survey as an important tool that will help us break the silence and mobilize efforts to prevent & respond to violence against children,” she said.


“Violence is not inevitable. Together, we can change this silent emergency,”

SRSG Marta Santos Pais addresses the event congregation.

Dr. Daniela Ligiero, CEO and executive director of Together for Girls and chair of the Executive Committee of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children (GPEVAC), congratulated the Government of El Salvador on the VACS report launch and recognized their commitment to collaborate across sectors to end of all forms violence against children. Dr. Ligiero also discussed the importance of the INSPIRE framework, which provides seven strategies for national governments to transform VACS data into action as a way forward.


“The main lesson when it comes to eliminating violence is that there is not an actor or sector that can work this alone,” she said. “We have to work together.”


Daniela Ligiero,  Executive Director and CEO of Together for Girls, addresses the congregation at the El Salvador Launch event

Key Findings from the Report

During the event, representatives from IOM and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared remarks and key highlights on the various forms of violence against children and their consequences from the VACS report.


“This study [VACS] is a baseline that allows us to measure in the future how the programs and policies of El Salvador are evolving,” said Jorge Peraza, IOM Chief of Mission in El Salvador.


Andres Villaveces, Senior Scientist, Division of Violence Prevention with CDC, presenting key highlights from the El Salvador VACS launch.

Key findings from the El Salvador VACS Report include:

Among 18-24 year olds:

  • About one in five boys and one in three girls experienced some kind of violence in childhood. This percentage represents a substantial part of Salvadoran youth.
  • Physical violence was the most common type of violence experienced in childhood, affecting 20% of girls and boys. More girls experienced physical violence by a parent or an adult caregiver, and more boy experienced physical violence by a peer of the same age.
  • In El Salvador, the migration of fathers and mothers is a common experience for children. Parents usually migrate before their children reach age 10, increasing the vulnerability of these children at a critical age.
  • Consistent with data at the global level, girls in El Salvador experience higher levels of sexual violence.
  • The most common perpetrators of the first incident of sexual violence in childhood were members of the family, and the home environment (be it the child’s or perpetrators home) was the most common location, but considerable instances of sexual violence also occurred at school
  • Nearly 10% of 13 to 24 year old girls and young women who ever experienced physically forced, coerced or alcohol-facilitated sex reported a resulting pregnancy.
  • 0% of boys and less than 15% of girls who experienced sexual violence in childhood sought or received follow up care and services after the incident. Learn more about the importance of post-rape care here.

For more information regarding the El Salvador VACS, check out the full VACS report, country fact sheet in English and Spanish visit El Salvador’s country page on the Together for Girls website.