Protecting children from violence

How does violence affect children?

The tragic consequences of violence affect all aspects of a child’s life and can be passed down from one generation to the next. Violence against children also carries serious emotional and financial costs to all societies in every region of the world.

Latest Unicef data shows staggering levels of violence against children. Every year nearly a billion children worldwide are regularly subjected to physical punishment by their caregivers. And approximately one in 10 girls under the age of 20, or 120 million girls worldwide, have experienced sexual violence.

Our report, Children in Danger, reveals that physical, sexual and emotional abuse is widespread, with millions of children unsafe in their homes, schools and communities.


Read our report on violence against children


How is Unicef helping to protect children from violence?

Violence against children is not inevitable and it is possible to break the cycle of violence against boys and girls.

We help protect children by setting up services to help them and their families, working with governments to make sure national child protection systems are effective, and with communities to change attitudes towards violence so it’s considered unacceptable.

Diego’s story

Nine-year-old Diego lives in Santo Tomás, El Salvador – a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates. As part of a Unicef-supported initative, Diego is one of 130 children taking part in special art and culture workshops run in a local park, where he is taught photography, film, drawing and painting.

Before this initiative there were no cultural activities for children in Santo Tomás. Diego credits the programme with building his self-esteem and vision for the future. “My dream for El Salvador is for there to be no street kids,” he said. “If I were president, I’d like to open up a workshop for painting, art, drawing, guitar, photography and video. And I’d give all children all over the world health, happiness and an education.”

Watch Diego's story and see how Unicef is helping to break the cycle of gang violence in his town.

Join our latest campaign

There are still many children who are victims of violence. You can sign up to our campaigns network to hear our latest campaign updates and use your voice to help children in danger.

Right now, children are being forced to take dangerous journeys to Europe, leaving them exposed to violence, exploitation and abuse. Some of these children seeking refuge find themselves alone, as they try to reach the safety of their family in the UK.

We’re calling on the UK Government to keep unaccompanied refugee children safe.

Syrian children take part in games as part of a Unicef-supported psychosocial programme which helps them to recover from the trauma caused by the conflict.

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