Violence In Childhood

Every day, millions of boys and girls around the world experience severe forms of violence – physical, emotional or sexual. Violence of any kind is unacceptable, but it is particularly reprehensible when directed against helpless and powerless children. Children exposed to violence not only suffer immediate injury, but also live in fear, and are unable to realise their full potential.

The extent of violence in childhood was estimated in a 2014 UNICEF report, Hidden in Plain Sight. This report emphasised the difficulty in measuring violence and pointed to many gaps in knowledge, but made global estimates for:



In 2012 alone, 95,000 children and young people under the age of 20 were murdered – almost 20% of all homicides.



In 2013/14, around one in three students between the ages of 13 and 15 were involved in one or more physical fights.

Physical Punishment


Around 60% of children, almost one billion, are regularly subjected to physical punishment by their caregivers.


Boys and girls who have been exposed to violence are not only at immediate risk, they can also face lifelong problems – with impairments to their physical and mental health. And their harmful experiences can trigger a series of problems, including cognitive impairments, anxiety and depressive disorders, substance abuse, impaired work performance and aggressive behaviour.

Violence in childhood has many causes. It is often rooted in deep and underlying societal problems – in inequality, insecurity and injustice. And it persists through generations. Children, who have been abused, are themselves more likely to become perpetrators – either as children or as adults. The aim should be to break these vicious inter-generational cycles.

Despite the extent and serious consequences of violence experienced by children, relatively little is known about the underlying drivers, or the longer-term costs for children and for societies. Even worse, not enough is being done to prevent violence.

About Know Violence in Childhood

Launched in New Delhi in November 2014, the Initiative was established as a collective response by individuals from multilateral institutions, non-governmental organisations and funding agencies concerned about the global impact of violence in childhood and the lack of investment in effective violence prevention strategies.

It builds on three central premises:

  • 1

    Violence is preventable. Strategies for prevention can help build better lives for boys and girls – optimising their well-being and their development to adulthood.

  • 2

    Sound evidence and effective communication should inform policy and programme strategies — which will help global, regional and national policy-makers focus attention on this major international issue and take effective action.

  • 3

    Countries can learn from each other — exchanging knowledge across national boundaries and transferring experience between different contexts.


Over two years, the Initiative will gather evidence on violence in childhood and on the linkages with health, education and poverty. It will then present the case for greater global investment in prevention and recommend the necessary policies.

Know Violence in Childhood is gathering global support – forging partnerships with leading organisations and international experts from the fields of child protection, health, education, justice, international development, human rights and economics.

The Initiative also brings together a diverse, multi-sectoral group of researchers who are organised in three Learning Groups and has commissioned over 30 major global research papers covering three key settings where children experience violence: in the home; in schools or institutions; and within the wider community and in public spaces.

The aim is to promote learning across boundaries – national, sectoral and disciplinary. This should inspire global advocacy and action – and encourage greater investment in violence prevention.

Know Violence in Childhood will act on three broad fronts: building evidence and showcasing solutions; engaging leadership; and energising national, regional and global advocacy.



Investigating the underlying causes and consequences of violence in childhood and gathering information on effective methods of prevention.

Every year, as many as 1.5 billion children around the world experience severe forms of physical, emotional and sexual violence. This not only harms children directlyit also adds to inequality. Children who experience violence at home or at school are more likely to be absent from school or to drop out and thus, are deprived of a full, high-quality education. There are also major financial costs. Each year up to 8% of Global GDP is spent on repairing the damage caused by childhood violence yet most governments fail to invest in tackling the root cause. As a result, they are failing to protect their investments in areas such as education, health and justice.



Convening and engaging leaders across academia, policy-making, politics and practice

The Initiative is in a strong position to mobilise global political attention. It is shaped and guided by two authoritative co-chairs. One co-chair is Baroness Vivien Stern, a member of the UK House of Lords who is actively and internationally engaged in the fields of diplomacy, politics, human rights and the rule of law. The other is Dr AK Shiva Kumar, a human development economist who is deeply connected with rights-based development and social policy in many parts of the developing world.



Arguing for solutions to end violence in childhood

The Initiative is poised to take advantage of the increasing global momentum for preventing violence in childhood. This includes the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an opportunity to generate greater awareness and political commitment and create new entry points for action.

  • KVIC Partners - Public Health Foundation of India
  • KVIC Partners -University of Delaware
  • KVIC Partners - FXB
Supported by
  • Unicef
  • Benard Van Leer Foundation
  • Ikea Foundation
  • American Jewish world Service
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Oak Foundation
  • End Violence
Any feedback on the site? Click here ...

© 2017 Know Violence in Childhood. All Rights Reserved.
All images used on this website [except for the Know Violence in Childhood Team members] are copyright © UNICEF.

Sitemap Website Design By : Addictive Media