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Small Cracks, Big Gaps: How governments allow violence against children to persist

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World Vision
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Every year, more than 1.7 billion children around the globe experience emotional, physical and sexual violence in homes, communities, schools, workplaces, detention centres, institutions and online. The causes of violence are many and often interconnect to form a dangerous web for children. The root causes range from societal to intimately personal. Poverty and economic distress, cultural norms, conflict and displacement, weak safety net services, and gender inequality are among the drivers of violence against children. Often violence is under-reported and hidden, meaning children’s suffering remains invisible to decision makers and public alike. Failing to prevent and effectively respond to violence against children can have life-long impacts on health, well-being and attitudes towards family and relationships. These in turn can perpetuate the cycle of violence into the next generation. But the debilitating impact of violence does not stop there. It contaminates to communities and countries, jeopardizing social and economic development. This places a significant financial burden on societies – globally estimated at up to USD$ 7 trillion annually.

Recognising the need to address this critical problem, governments across the globe have committed to end violence against children in all its forms by ratifying the Convention on the Rights on the Child (CRC). This commitment was reinforced in 2015 with the adoption of the Agenda 2030 – an essential action considering the immense scale and impact that violence against children has worldwide.

World Vision believes that a world without violence against children is possible.

Achieving these commitments requires accelerating, as well as expanding and increasing the impact of the interventions World Vision knows work. It takes creating new partnerships to accelerate action, dramatically increasing resources and taking every effort to sustain the political will to protect the world’s most vital resource – children.

We have reviewed the policies and legislative progress of 20 countries who made commitments to end violence against children. Countries selected reflect the varying levels of prevalence of violence against children and the different levels of commitment by governments to end it.

The review reveals that, while some progress has been made to end violence against children, commitments by governments have not been matched by substantial action. This leaves significant gaps in laws, policies and programmes that can have severe consequences for children. It demonstrates the current limits on the ambitions of many governments to ending violence against children, which put at risk the fulfilment of the entire Sustainable Development Goal 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and the broader Agenda 2030.