World Vision’s long-term presence in thousands of communities means that every day we are confronted with the shocking reality that hundreds of millions of children experience violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Their rights to care, protection and to live free from fear are ignored.
How we protect children
Our vision is that by 2020 children in the world’s hardest places will live free from exploitation and abuse, in communities where they can flourish. We provide financial and technical support for World Vision programmes that empower children to protect themselves. We also work with their families, communities and governments to strengthen the systems (see diagram below) that protect them. Often these children are hidden away, but working closely with the local community we are able to reach these most vulnerable children.
We also advocate for the UK government to use its influence to better protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Our main focus is protecting children from:
- Early marriage
- Child labour
- Sexual and gender-based violence
- Impacts of armed conflict
In 2013, we supported 26 projects across 17 countries to improve child protection, benefiting 429,987 children living in the world’s hardest places.
But making positive changes in the lives of children torn apart by fear, poverty and conflict isn’t something we can do alone. Last year, we worked with thousands of communities to help make children safer and less fearful of violence, early marriage, child labour and abuse.
- Free from violence: in Somalia, South Sudan, Armenia and Albania, we helped establish child support and protection committees. They’ve helped spot children at risk, and to prevent and report threats. As a result we’re seeing less violence against children, safer schools and better parenting skills.
- Free from early marriage: we helped communities understand the negative effects that marrying young can cause. Incidents of early marriage have been reduced in 23 communities in Malawi – in six months, local child protection committees assisted eight girls aged 13 to 15 to become free from forced marriage.
- Free from harmful work: in the brick factories of Battambang and Sangke, Cambodia, child labour is down 59%. Many of these children are now back in school. Awareness of child labour laws has also increased among employers and communities.
- Free to speak out: after five years of work in Lezha, Albania, more than one in five people surveyed said child protection had improved significantly and almost all believed children were empowered to talk about child protection issues.
- Free to learn about their rights: in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, we trained 130 vulnerable children, including survivors of sexual violence and child soldiers, to know their rights and know where to go to get help. In Albania, we’ve run camps, theatre performances and training sessions to help 499 children understand their own rights.
ANIKA (name changed)
Anika from Bangladesh was at risk of being married off when she was just 14-years-old. She saw many other girls dropping out of school to be married – often into exploitative, violent and risky situations.
However, Anika joined a child rights club supported by World Vision and gained the skills and confidence needed to make her community aware of the negative effects of early marriage.
Now Anika has joined her voice to those calling for change at a national level and with World Vision’s support has taken her message about the harm that early marriage can cause to the United Nations.
SARAH (name changed)
In Tanzania, 11-year-old Sarah became aware that a classmate was to be illegally subjected to female circumcision. Having received life skills training from World Vision, Sarah knew this was wrong and that she could do something about it.
Sarah spoke with a teacher who referred the matter to community child protection committee, supported by World Vision. The committee then stopped the circumcision.
Since then Sarah has trained other children in life skills and also explained the allegation management process to a senior member of the police, which helped to strengthen local child protection systems.
Sexual violence happens largely in the shadows. It generally takes place out of sight, and victims are often forced to suffer the resulting physical, psychological and emotional trauma behind literal or figurative closed doors.
Deeply-entrenched societal taboos surrounding any discussion of sexual activity are intensified when suggestions of force or coercion are introduced.This collective silence can present a significant hurdle to identifying the scale of sexual violence and to effectively prevent and respond to it. Misconceptions about who can be a victim of sexual violence, where and how it happens, and what survivors want most in order to recover make it all the more difficult to address.
World Vision is committed to being fully accountable to the children and communities we serve, as well as to our donors, supporters and peers in the aid work sector. Find out more »