Reducing violence in young children's lives

Repeated exposure to violence, either as victims or as witnesses, has lifelong effects on young children’s health, well-being and ability to learn. We support our partners to research why violence happens, raise the profile of this issue on the public agenda, test solutions through demonstration projects and build partnerships with policymakers with a view to scaling-up evidencebased approaches.

We are investing in programmes to reduce violence in young children's lives in seven of our focus countries (Brazil, Israel, the Netherlands, Peru, Tanzania, Turkey and Uganda). 

Reducing violence in young children's lives 2014


Monitoring progress on reducing violence in young children's lives

We track progress on reducing violence by looking at five areas. These are listed below, followed by a summary of progress in 2014 on this goal.

  • Shifts in social norms towards less acceptance of violence
  • Spread of evidence-based policies to prevent violence
  • Increased provision of preventive and responsive services
  • Reduction in community violence
  • Reduction in family violence

When we began work on this goal in 2011, we commissioned baseline research in seven countries (Peru, Brazil, Netherlands, Israel, Turkey, Uganda and Tanzania) that included household-level data from approximately 10,000 families. We found a great deal of commonality across countries. The most common drivers of violence included a combination of stress on families and social norms in which certain forms of violence were considered acceptable.

On this premise, we supported partners who in 2014 engaged in 11 campaigns to change social norms towards less acceptance of violence. These campaigns reached close to 3 million people and involved a wide range of messengers such as fathers, recording artists, evangelical church leaders, politicians, traditional healers and children themselves. Having a diverse group of messengers has proven important to effectively mobilise different groups in society. This is illustrated by the case of La Familia Policial Libre de Violencia (Police Families Free of Violence).

The campaigns, combined with direct support to policymakers, have helped to raise prevention of violence on the policy agenda. For example, Foundation partner Children of Prisoners Europe (cope) successfully convinced the European Union to put these children on the official list of vulnerable children, giving them access to more services and support; a coalition of Turkish research partners launched the results of a national survey on family violence helping to open a productive dialogue with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies; and an evaluation of the Dutch television series for children on child abuse by Het Klokhuis that served as a basis for a broader campaign found positive effects on the reporting of violence by children, prompting a strong endorsement from the Mayor of Amsterdam.

We also continued to monitor 27 ongoing demonstration projects testing different approaches to prevent violence in young children’s lives. These projects reached 74,000 children in 2014. One lesson we have learned from monitoring and evaluating these projects is that combining behaviour change strategies with activities to help meet families’ basic needs such as home improvement, savings groups and employment programmes, is a promising formula for success.

Communicating solutions

Another lesson from working on this goal is the importance of communicating solutions. In 2012 and 2013, we conducted interviews with opinion leaders in different countries and found that very few had heard of successful measures to prevent violence against children. This year, we partnered with the Oak Foundation and the Nduna Foundation to launch Without Violence – an initiative to increase the visibility of solutions and success stories, which can help reinforce the message that violence is preventable. This initiative partnered with UNICEF to launch a framework called Six Strategies for Action, outlining successful approaches to tackling violence against children. The release was covered in the international press.

Sharing knowledge on reducing violence

KNOW Violence in Childhood
To continue gathering evidence on what works, we partnered with the Oak Foundation, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Delaware, the University of the West Indies and the Public Health Foundation of India to create KNOW Violence, an initiative to synthesise existing evidence on the preventability of violence from across academic disciplines and countries. Once the synthesis is completed in 2016, KNOW Violence will communicate recommendations to key funders and policymakers. The initiative was formally launched in November in New Delhi and co-chaired by leading criminal justice advocate Baroness Vivien Stern and eminent human development economist Dr Shiva Kumar.

Early Childhood Matters on ‘Responsive parenting – a strategy to prevent violence’
The June 2014 edition of Early Childhood Matters (and its Spanish edition, Espacio para la Infancia) examined the potential for responsive parenting programmes to reduce the incidence of violence against young children, with contributions from Jordan, Jamaica, Canada, the Netherlands, Brazil, Peru, Israel, Turkey and the United States.

© 2015 Bernard van Leer Foundation | Sitemap | Disclaimer | Privacy & Cookies | Contact us | Vacancies