Introduction: Ending sexual violence against children

What to expect from our field guide

Father and son

Apolitical’s field guides are designed to help public servants understand an important policymaking issue, approach, skill or trend. They cover a range of topics — from citizen engagement, the gender pay gap and government innovation to the one you’re reading now: ending sexual violence against children.

Each field guide has between 10-15 learning materials: a mix of in-depth reporting, expert editorials, resources and regular assessments — so keep an eye out for key details!

The field guide should take approximately two to three hours to complete, and covers the following three learning objectives:

Objective 1: Learn about interventions and strategies to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation
Objective 2: Understand the data on sexual abuse and exploitation through the lens of human stories
Objective 3: Explore ways of overcoming the challenges in crafting policy to prevent child sexual exploitation

This field guide explores the ways that governments, policymakers and the third sector are tackling challenges when trying to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation.

It first examines various approaches to tackling abuse which takes place in different spaces. Some are often presumed safe: in school or in the home. Others are sites of trauma, like institutions or humanitarian disasters.

It then explores the value of data in the policy space, and provides readers with a toolkit, linking them to different datasets and methods to display data in your policymaking so that it has an impact.

The toolkit highlights a brand new dataset: the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Out of the Shadows Index.

The benchmarking index casts a spotlight on how 60 countries are addressing sexual violence against children. Several pieces in the field guide also refer to the Index, so it’s something to watch out for.

There’s a quick quiz after every article, and we give you the chance after each section to reflect on what you’ve learned so far.

Key themes

Apolitical’s field guides are designed to be varied — in terms of geography, subject matter, authorship and more. But this field guide does contain some key themes to watch out for.

Empowering caregivers, like parents, families and members of local communities, leads to better outcomes for children. Children in care or humanitarian conflict can be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. This field guide explores how to support children in these vulnerable spaces, and champion care rooted in local communities.

Equally, the family has a role to play. Successful parenting programs, for example, help parents develop practices to prevent abuse. We compare a Bolivian parenting program with one exported first to Kenya from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both focusing on empowering parents to listen to their children and confront abuse when it arises.

Holding bureaucracy all in one place can help minimise trauma. Schemes like the Barnahus model or Rwanda’s Isenge Centres (both explored in this field guide) are “one-stop shops” for victims of violence. Adoptees of the model create a child-friendly hub to host representatives from different state services all under the same roof, to minimise bureaucracy in the face of trauma and to prevent the child from re-telling their story again and again. But others warn that centralised hubs don’t work everywhere, especially where countries are particularly rural. 

Data is often lacking in the space — and more data can help build your case for action. Data on how prevalent abuse is for children in care or in conflict frequently isn’t available. Data is difficult to collect: the barrier to disclose abuse is in every child, and the approaches explored in the first half of the field guide show you how to get children to open up and feel safe. The second half of the field guide makes a case for strong data collection in the policy space, and gives you the tools to explore the data that’s out there as well as best practices for data collection with children, to help you present your own datasets to decision-makers.

We hope you find this field guide useful. Please do leave feedback when prompted to do so, and if you have any questions or more detailed comments, feel free to get in touch via email.

[Photo credit: Ante Hamersmit/Unsplash]

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