A new drive to curb the rising levels of Violence Against Children in Africa has been launched. This is after a recent research indicated that African children continue to suffer widespread physical, psychological and sexual violence.

Data released by the African Partnership to End Violence against Children (APEVAC) revealed an unacceptable scale of violence against children (VAC). The studies show that more than half of all children experience physical abuse, while in some parts of Africa, four in ten girls suffer sexual violence before the age of 15.

Speaking at the launch of the drive, Dr. Joan Nyanyuki, ACPF Executive Director said, “Vigorous action must be taken to tackle the unacceptable scourge of VAC in Africa. Thirty years after the African Children’s Charter was adopted, African governments are still failing to protect children from violence.”

“Of all the unspeakable damages suffered by of our children, violence is surely the worst, simply because it is entirely avoidable, yet leaves lasting scars. We cannot accept such suffering at any level of African society, as its devastating impacts on our children’s dignity, physical and mental wellbeing continue to rob them of their future,” said Mrs. Graça Machel, Chair of the ACPF International Board of Trustees.

ACPF’s three new studies provide powerful evidence of the rise in VAC in Africa. The studies found that children caught up in conflict or humanitarian disasters, those with disabilities, engaged in child labour, living or working on the streets, and those in residential care, are most vulnerable. Digital technology is driving new forms of VAC, with children now facing increased risks of online sexual abuse. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a spike in reports of VAC.

The following are the key findings of the APEVAC report.

  • At least 60% of boys and 51% of girls in Africa experience physical abuse.
  • In some regions, more than eight out of ten children aged 1-14 experience violent discipline every month.
  • In Nigeria, 66% of girls and 58% of boys under 18 witness violence in the home.
  • More than half of all children aged 13–15 in West and Central Africa are bullied in school.
  • Africa has the highest rates of child neglect in the world. 41.8% of girls and 39.1% of boys are neglected by their caregivers.
  • Sexual violence against children with disabilities is high in many countries, ranging from two incidents per child in Senegal to four per child in Cameroon.

On the upside, the study found that home-grown initiatives can reduce levels of violence, whilst strengthening relationships between parents and their children.

“We need more of Africa’s own home-grown solutions which offer children greater protection and help to build stronger communities. We must urgently address the deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes and practices which discriminate against children, especially girls,” added Dr. Nyanyuki.