What works to prevent sexual violence against children

Originally published



Sexual violence against children, which includes anyone under the age of 18, is one of the largest silent global pandemics of our time, occurring in countries at all levels of development and affecting children of all ages. Sexual violence consists of a range of sexual acts against a child, including but not limited to child sexual abuse, incest, rape, sexual violence in the context of dating/intimate relationships, sexual exploitation, online sexual abuse, and non-contact sexual abuse.Until recently, very little was known about the true nature of sexual violence against children.

However, over the last two decades, a growing number of research efforts to document and understand the dynamics and prevalence of sexual violence against children have started to shed light on its magnitude and consequences. Historically, a great deal of the research has focused on high-income countries (HICs), but significant progress has been made in lowand middle-income countries (LMICs). The evidence emerging demonstrates that prevention interventions can make a difference.


Sexual violence against children and adolescents does not occur in isolation. It often intersects with other forms of gender-based violence and violence against children. Further, different forms of violence against children share common drivers and risk factors. Thus, holistic approaches that target all forms of violence are important to address these intersections, consider polyvictimization, and maximize the use of scarce resources. At the same time, the nuanced experiences of sexual violence also require focused interventions during specific points in the life course. Therefore, both holistic and focused approaches are important and should be complementary.

Together for Girls, in partnership with the Equality Institute and the Oak Foundation, has drawn on an extensive evidence base and the expert knowledge of civil society, practitioners, academics, and policymakers, with special attention to LMICs, to do the following:

• Present a user-friendly summary of the existing evidence of what works to prevent one specific form of violence against children and adolescents — sexual violence
• Highlight ongoing challenges and evidence gaps
• Share case studies across various sectors and regions of the world • Showcase expert opinions on how to best prevent sexual violence against children

For more information about Together for Girls or the "What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children" Evidence Review, please visit