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Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS)

Towards a Violence-Free Generation
Using science to fuel action and end violence against children

A first step in preventing violence, is better understanding its magnitude, nature, and consequences. CDC's Violence against Children Surveys (VACS) measure physical, emotional, and sexual violence against girls and boys. These surveys have been completed in five countries, and are underway in nine more.

More than 1 billion children—half of all the children in the world—are victims of violence every year.

Percentage of individuals who experienced physical violence and/or emotional violence as a child.

Physical Violence
by an adult relative, intimate partner, or authority figure
""Percent GirlsCountryPercent Boys""
61%
Haiti
57%
66%
Kenya
73%
55%
Tanzania
53%
64%
Zimbabwe
76%

Emotional Violence
by an adult
""Percent GirlsCountryPercent Boys""
35%
Haiti
27%
26%
Kenya
32%
24%
Tanzania
28%
29%
Zimbabwe
38%
26%
Swaziland
*

Turning Data into Action

The Violence against Children Surveys (VACS) systematically measure physical, emotional, and sexual violence against girls and boys, and identify risk and protective factors and health consequences, as well as use of services and barriers to seeking help.

Children who experience violence are at greater risk for common and destructive yet preventable consequences, including HIV, chronic diseases, crime and drug abuse, as well as serious mental health problems.

Findings from VACS enable countries to better allocate limited resources to develop, launch, and evaluate violence prevention programs and child protection systems.

Data Spotlight

Swaziland

Increased risk of negative health conditions associated with exposure to childhood sexual violence reported by females 13-24
""Negative Health ConditionsRisk
HIV/STIs3.7x
Pregnancy Complications3.5x
Alcohol Use3.0x
Unwanted Pregnancy2.9x
Feeling Depressed2.3x
Suicidal Ideation2.3x
Attempted Suicide2.0x
Difficulty Sleeping1.8x
Cigarette Use1.2x

Zimbabwe

Percentage of girls who experienced specific types of sexual violence as a child reported by females 18-24
Type of Sexual Violence%
Unwanted sexual touching20%
Attempted unwanted sex15%
Coerced sex7%
Forced sex9%

*Total percentages exceed 33% reported above because girls often experience more than one type of sexual violence.

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Action Spotlight

Tanzania

Tanzania improves programs and services to prevent violence against children

young children

Sparked by the high rates of violence identified by VACS, the Government of Tanzania developed a multi-sector National Response Plan to prevent violence against children that focuses on education, social welfare, legal, justice, public health, and community. The Plan pays particular attention to sexual violence, the vulnerability of girls, and the health consequences of violence.

To see results, Tanzania is launching several new programs and policies, including:

In addition, CDC's office in Tanzania has identified the "Families Matter!" program, an evidence-based intervention designed to promote positive parenting practices and effective parent-child communication about sexuality and sexual risk reduction for parents of 9-12 year olds, as a platform for preventing and responding to childhood sexual violence.

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Global Partners

a small boy holding a globeThe surveys are implemented under the leadership of country governments with participation from in-country partners and with support from UNICEF and Together for Girls (TfG) partners. CDC receives financial support for VACS from PEPFAR and from foundation partners through the CDC Foundation.

VACS is part of the Together for Girls partnership (TfG) which focuses on conducting national surveys to document the magnitude and impact of sexual violence, supporting a coordinated response to strengthen violence prevention, and leading global advocacy to promote evidence-based solutions.

Partner List

These partners include:

For more information about VACS please email vacs@cdc.gov.

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