As the world grapples with the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a shadow pandemic of violence against children is quickly emerging. Calls to child helplines and domestic violence hotlines, point to a spike in levels of violence since stay-at-home measures were put in place.
These trends are consistent with data from past humanitarian and economic crises. Faced with limited data, we must rely on existing data to prevent and respond to violence against children during and after the pandemic. To estimate levels of violence during COVID-19, it is important to know to understand the magnitude and nature of violence against children before the pandemic. Data from the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS), population-based household surveys, show that children and youth already experienced high rates of physical, sexual and emotional violence, with often devastating immediate and long-term consequences. National governments lead the implementation of the VACS, with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the Together for Girls (TfG) partnership. We now have data for over 20 countries and approximately 10% of the world’s population under 24. The VACS generate data for children, adolescents, and young people on the prevalence and incidence of physical, sexual, and emotional violence as well as risk and protective factors, consequences of violence, and access to services. Currently, 10 countries have made their VACS datasets publicly available for secondary analyses. Researchers and practitioners can request access to the datasets through Together for Girls. The available data can help answer important research questions and further our understanding of violence against children. The availability of the datasets for additional analyses is especially important in light of COVID-19 and the significant barriers to primary data collection.
June 24, 8:00-9:15 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time