Over half of all children aged 2-17 worldwide have experienced some form of abuse in the past year. Violence against children can take multiple forms, including child maltreatment, bullying, youth violence, intimate partner violence (in the context of child marriage and dating violence experienced by girls), sexual or emotional abuse. Evidence shows that intimate partner violence and child maltreatment can occur in the same household. Children who experience abuse or who witness intimate partner violence in their homes are more likely to perpetrate or experience violence as adults. Adolescence is an important window of opportunity to build healthy and egalitarian social norms as young people begin to form romantic relationships or become sexually active.
The objective of this strategy is to establish nurturing family relationships, prohibit corporal punishment, reduce harsh parenting practices and create positive parent-child relationships.
Interventions to prevent child and adolescent abuse can be drawn from the INSPIRE framework, which includes seven strategies for ending violence against children. Each letter of the word INSPIRE represents one of the strategies that have been shown to prevent different types of violence against children.
Interventions to prevent child and adolescent abuse can be implemented with children, parents and caregivers, in schools, homes and other institutions, including health centres. They include:
1.Parenting support interventions which aim to improve disciplinary practices and relationships between caregivers and children. They may target fathers and model parental roles in order to promote gender equality in relationships.
2. Life skills training which includes curriculum-based approaches to promote healthy and egalitarian relationships among peers and address relationship violence among adolescents.
3.Home visitation, usually by nurses or community health workers, targeting mothers at risk of or experiencing intimate partner violence and/or households at risk of child abuse. The aim of these visits is to strengthen the parenting skills of pregnant women and mothers.
4. Psychological support for children who have experienced violence or who have witnessed parental violence in their home. This involves addressing
the mental health and trauma of these children to reduce the intergenerational experience or perpetration of violence as they become adults.
There are also interventions to empower adolescent girls that should be cross-referenced under the Empowerment of women strategy. Those requiring a whole-school approach are cross-referenced under Environments made safe, while those aiming to build relationship skills among adolescents are cross-referenced under Relationship skills strengthened. Therefore, users interested in child and adolescent abuse prevention strategies should read these other strategies as well.
Evidence for this strategy is summarised on pages 5-6 of the C strategy summary brief.