Evidence confirms associations between childhood violence and major causes of mortality in adulthood. A synthesis of data on past-year prevalence of violence against children will help advance the United Nations’ call to end all violence against children.
Investigators systematically reviewed population-based surveys on the prevalence of past-year violence against children and synthesized the best available evidence to generate minimum regional and global estimates.
We searched Medline, PubMed, Global Health, NBASE, CINAHL, and the World Wide Web for reports of representative surveys estimating prevalences of violence against children.
Two investigators independently assessed surveys against inclusion criteria and rated those included on indicators of quality.
Investigators extracted data on past-year prevalences of violent victimization by country, age group, and type (physical, sexual, emotional, or multiple types). We used a triangulation approach which synthesized data to generate minimum regional prevalences, derived from population-weighted averages of the country-specific prevalences.
Thirty-eight reports provided quality data for 96 countries on past-year prevalences of violence against children. Base case estimates showed a minimum of 50% or more of children in Asia, Africa, and Northern America experienced past-year violence, and that globally over half of all children—1 billion children, ages 2–17 years—experienced such violence.
Due to variations in timing and types of violence reported, triangulation could only be used to generate minimum prevalence estimates.
Expanded population-based surveillance of violence against children is essential to target prevention and drive the urgent investment in action endorsed in the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.