At least one billion children aged between two and 17 experience some form of violence every year. This is correlated with a range of mental health problems and worse educational outcomes, and increases the likelihood of either experiencing or perpetrating violence.
And the costs are immense: the UK’s Overseas Development Institute calculated in 2014 that violence against children costs the global economy $7 trillion every year, equivalent to 8% of global GDP.
But two new guides, published July 12, offer the most comprehensive overview to date on how to implement policies and interventions, and how to measure them. The documents show how to implement scores of evidence-based policies and interventions to reduce violence against children, and crucially, how to monitor and evaluate their impact.
Policies and interventions are drawn from across the world, including low- and middle-income countries. Featured programs include SASA!, a community mobilisation program that cut violence against women by 52% in Uganda; IMpower, a self-defence program for teens that cut rape in half in Nairobi’s slums; and Cure Violence, a violence interruption program proven to cut killings and shootings by 41–73% in various settings.
The new additions supplement the INSPIRE core document published in 2016. That document laid out the seven evidence-based strategies that comprise the acronym: the implementation and enforcement of laws; norms and values change; safe environments; parent and caregiver support; income and economic strengthening; response and support services; and education and life skills.
According to Dr Alex Butchart, coordinator of violence prevention at the WHO, “The core document set out the evidence, but it didn’t set out how to do the interventions, or how to measure them. These latest additions provide the last two pieces of the puzzle.”
The hope is that the field of violence prevention can now be “welded into some kind of collective action by shared strategies and a common set of evidence-based interventions,” Butchart said.
The WHO estimates that violence against children could fall by a fifth in five years if governments take heed of the latest learnings in the field. — Edward Siddons
(Picture credit: Flickr/Peter)