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Nigeria is the first country to undertake and launch the Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) in West Africa. The Summary Report of Nigeria’s VACS was released in September 2015, with a full report launched in February 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.

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For an overview of the data found in Nigeria’s Violence Against Children Survey, download the Nigeria one-pager factsheet.


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Key highlights include:


Girls were significantly more likely to report that their first experience of sexual intercourse in childhood was forced. For girls whose first sexual intercourse was prior to age 18, 26% reported their first experience as forced (compared to 9.6% of boys).


1 in 4 girls experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 years.


A third of girls experienced their first incident of sexual violence between 14 and 15 years of age.

For those whose first sexual intercourse was prior to age 18, 9.6% of boys reported their first sexual intercourse as forced.


1 in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 years.


Almost a third of boys experienced their first incident of sexual violence at 13 years and below.

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1 in 4 girls and
1 in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18

Download the reports:

2014 - Violence Against Children in Nigeria: Findings from a National Survey - Full report

2014 - Violence Against Children in Nigeria: Findings from a National Survey - Summary report

2019 - The Economic Burden of Violence Against Children - Full report

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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.

Learn more:

2016 - Ending Violence Against Children in Nigeria: Progress report

2016 - Ending Violence Against Children in Nigeria: Roadmap to end VAC by 2030

2014 - Ending Violence Against Children in Nigeria: Priority actions

2014 - Ending Violence Against Children in Nigeria: Priority actions - Lagos state

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Next steps include:

  • Specifically laws that prevent and respond to violence.

This is done 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

This is done 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

At the national level, advocacy by media and civil society took center stage in a push for States to effectively implement the Child’s Rights Act of 2003. In addition, there was strong advocacy for the passage of the Social Welfare Professionalization Bill. Other acts on which advocacy focused include:

  • the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) 2015
  • the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
  • Undertake a study on the cost of violence against children in Nigeria
  • Develop budgeting guidelines for child protection
  • Undertake a study on drivers of violence and barriers to accessing services
  • Establish a national child protection management information system
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What is being done in Nigeria in global advocacy and public awareness surrounding violence against children?

Nigeria Partners:

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).


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.

*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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