ChildFund Alliance Urges Governments to Make Child Protection a Global Priority – Cites evidence that prevention is cost effective

ChildFund Alliance Urges Governments to Make Child Protection a Global Priority – Cites evidence that prevention is cost effective.

ChildFund Alliance, a global network of child-centered development organizations, is calling on governments to prioritize the protection of children from violence in the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), and in the means of implementation for the post-2015 development agenda.

Violence against children costs up to US$7 trillion, or 8% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a study ChildFund Alliance commissioned to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).(1) Evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that violence impacts children’s health, stunts brain development, makes school harder and costs governments and societies money.

Children and young people – those most directly affected by violence – are also making their voices heard on this issue. In 2014, ChildFund Alliance consulted with over 2,300 children in 40 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe, and asked them to draft their charters for world leaders, outlining their priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. Children in over 80% of participating countries responded that addressing violence against children was their top priority. “We can see that in the world, children are victims of many forms of violence. We should include this in the next development agenda,” stated a 16 year-old boy from Togo who participated in the ‘free charters’ initiative: Children’s priorities for the post-2015 development agenda.

The ODI study contends that the massive global costs related to physical, psychological and sexual violence are higher than the investments to prevent violence. It points to a growing body of evidence on violence prevention programs offering a few key insights. In the case of physical and psychological violence against children, existing evaluation evidence points toward parenting interventions for reducing harsh/abusive parenting practices and improving parent-children relationships as effective preventive measures to eliminate this type of violence. For girls living in poverty, combined interventions that provide life skills training with a particular focus on sexual education, alongside measures to strengthen their economic capabilities, are an effective way to prevent sexual abuse.

While the evidence clearly shows that “prevention pays,” current levels of government spending on violence prevention and responsive action remain low.

“Governments must prioritize the protection of children from violence, along with their survival and development,” said Meg Gardinier, Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance. “This is the world’s once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that children’s right to protection from all forms of violence and exploitation will be realised.”

ChildFund Alliance has welcomed the release of the final draft of the Outcome Document for the post-2015 development agenda, noting that all the goals and targets related to violence against children have been retained, and that Member States have expressed their commitment to combat “all forms of gender inequality, discrimination and violence against children, both boys and girls.”

ChildFund Alliance is one of several organisations calling on governments to support the creation of a Global Partnership on Violence against Children and its associated fund, to support the implementation of the post-2015 targets on violence against children.