The Government of Kenya Launches Second Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) Report

On July 16, 2020, the Government of Kenya shared their groundbreaking second Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) Report during a virtual launch event. As one of the first countries to complete the VACS process twice, the new report offers an unprecedented opportunity to measure Kenya’s progress in ending violence against children, as well as highlight areas where renewed efforts to prevent violence are needed.


“We have an unprecedented opportunity to address violence against children in our country,” said Hon. Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary for the Kenya Ministry of Labour & Social Protection, during the event. “The rich data from the 2019 VACS report will increase our understanding of the frequency, drivers, and impact of violence.”


In 2010, the Government of Kenya first conducted a VACS to provide data that would guide the planning and development of policies and programs to prevent violence before it starts and provide critical services to children and adolescents who experience violence. The 2019 VACS shows the great progress Kenya has made since the first VACS, including significant reductions in overall sexual, physical, and emotional violence in childhood. 


However, the report also highlights concerning trends on recent violence among adolescent girls ages 13-17, underscoring the importance of the sex- and age-disaggregated VACS data.


“When we compare the results from the 2010 and 2019 surveys, we see some decline in the prevalence of certain forms of violence. This gives us encouragement that reducing violence against children is indeed possible and our country has been making progress in the right direction,” said Chelugui. “However, the prevalence is still too high and some of the violence has increased from 2010, which is concerning.”

Recording of the Kenya VACS Launch

Key Highlights from Kenya’s VACS

Kenya’s 2019 VACS sampled more than 2,000 males and females from all 47 counties in Kenya. The survey provides national-level data on the prevalence, nature, and consequences of violence against children and youth, including insights on sexual violence and its relationship to lifelong health outcomes.


Both the 2010 and 2019 VACS were led by the Government of Kenya through funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Together for Girls global partnership.


Of note, there was a significant reduction in sexual, physical, emotional violence against children in the 2019 Kenya VACS. Since 2010:


– Childhood sexual violence was reduced in half for females, from 32% to 16% and by 2/3 for males, from 18% to 6%.

– Childhood physical violence decreased from 66% to 39% for females, and from 73% to 52% for males.

– Childhood emotional violence decreased from 14% to 7% for females, and from 30% to 5% for males.

However, any violence against children is unacceptable. Key findings of the 2019 Kenya VACS include: 


Violence in childhood is still common. About 1 out of every 2 children in Kenya experienced violence.

Many youth live in violent homes and communities. In Kenya, about half of females (52%) and half of males (52%) witnessed physical violence in the home in childhood.

Many youth do not receive the services they need. In Kenya, only 11% of girls and  3% of boys who experienced sexual violence received the services they need. 

Youth intimate partner violence is common. In Kenya, 44% of girls and 45% of boys experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner prior to age 18. 

Every child has the right to feel safe in their home, their school, and their community.

Data-Driven Action

During the launch, the Government of Kenya shared their national response plan which was developed based on the data in the VACS.


“These are not numbers, these are children,” said Maniza Zaman, UNICEF Representative in Kenya at the launch event. “We should be able to protect our children and act against acts of violence when we see it.”


The progress between Kenya’s two VACS reports demonstrates that ending violence against children is possible. By galvanizing coordinated action across sectors, Kenya showcased how the VACS process can reduce violence against children and youth.


“Every child has the right to feel safe in their home, their school, and their community,” said Zaman. “Violence against children scars too many young lives.”


To learn more about the results of the Kenya survey, view the report here. You can also view key data highlights from the second VACS report here.

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