Jane, 14, uses a megaphone to share protection messages with her community

It takes a world to stop violence against children

It takes people like you. Act now.

Violence can take many forms

A quarter of the world’s children – around 535 million – live in countries and communities blighted by conflict, disaster and epidemics.

Those forced to flee their homes and communities are particularly vulnerable to violence. Many more children live in extreme poverty, without access to food, water or healthcare. These conditions can make children vulnerable to many types of violence.

Stand with us to protect children

We know what works to keep children safe from violence. We work with communities to lift children out of the conditions that cause violence, and support those who have survived it by investing in programmes to help them recover and rebuild brighter futures.

We are a community of people who refuse to turn a blind eye.

Join us. It takes a world to protect vulnerable children.

Campaign for children

We started our ongoing global It takes a world to end violence against children campaign in 2016. To date, it is active in more than 80 countries. The It takes a world campaign aims to:

  • Ignite global movements for, with, and by children
  • Strengthen prevention and response measures
  • Increase funding
  • Strengthen accountability for commitments to ending violence against children

Supporters work to impact the lives of millions of girls and boys under 18 globally, contributing to the end of all forms of violence against them. We work in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, following the principle that all children deserve to be safe. 

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What our supporters have achieved

Karima's story

Karima was just 10 when her family sold her to an older man. Fortunately her teacher contacted a child protection committee, and the marriage was called off.

Karima is now back at primary school and so happy to be learning again, building her future. Getting married at 10 would have destroyed her dreams.

I told them I didn’t agree with the decision and I did not like this man. All I wanted was to go to school and get my education.


10, from Niger

How to help end violence against children

Together, we can protect and care for vulnerable children, so stories like these become a thing of the past.

Read some of our research into the issues, sign up to emails to make your voice heard in our next It Takes a World campaign. And consider becoming a World Vision supporter, to help children living in the most fragile and difficult places.

It really does take a world – but together, we can end violence against children.

Learn more about the issues

  • Child marriage is a violation of human rights, whereby one or both people are married before the age of 18. It is often called forced marriage because children can’t give valid consent to marry. Usually, forced marriage involves a young girl and an older man, however it does affect boys too.

    The U.N. Human Rights Council added child marriage to its agenda for action in 2013, declaring it a barrier to development. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is for all countries to end child marriage by 2030. World Vision is working with communities worldwide to help end child marriage as swiftly as possible.

  • When girls are forced to marry as children, it can cause serious physical and emotional health issues - it damages the child's education and development, and causes the cycle of poverty to continue. Child brides face being isolated from their friends and family at a critical stage of their lives. Girls who haven't even reached their 18th birthday are forced into the role of a grown woman - giving birth, keeping a home, raising a child when they themselves are still children. A child bride's future is forced upon her, and she has to sacrifice any dreams of an education, career, or choosing her partner.

    Other impacts include:
    Loss of education and opportunities - Most married girls do not attend school as they are expected to focus on domestic responsibilities or raise children. This leaves them with no education, limited work opportunities, and no chance to become financially independent - meaning they remain in the cycle of poverty.

    Physical and mental health - Because many of the girls who get married are so young, their bodies aren't yet ready for pregnancy and labour which often leads to health complications for both the mother and baby, and with little access to healthcare in many remote, poverty-stricken communities, it can even be fatal.

    Poverty - In many cases, societal and cultural norms mean that girls are already less able to break out of poverty, and when they're forced to become wives and mothers, their chances become almost non-existent, given that they are usually cut off from education and their chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.

  • There are unfortunately a number of countries across the world where child marriage takes place. Most commonly it happens in developing countries, but not exclusively. Of the top 25 countries with the highest rates of child marriage, almost all of them are affected by natural disasters, fragility, or conflict. For 70 years, World Vision has been working in these countries to end child marriage. 

    According to the report, State of the World's Children, conducted by UNICEF in 2017, the countries with the highest rates of child marriage under 18 (counted among women who are now aged 20-24) are:

    Niger* - 76%
    Central African Republic* - 68%
    Chad* - 67%
    Bangladesh* - 59%
    Mali* - 52%
    South Sudan* - 52%
    Burkina Faso - 52%
    Guinea - 51%
    Mozambique* - 48%
    India* - 47%

    *Countries where World Vision works with communities to help the most vulnerable children.

    40% of the world's child brides are in South Asia. Mainly due to the large population of the region and the fact that child marriage has been common here for a long time. India however has been making fast progress towards eliminating child marriage, particularly for girls under the age of 15.
    In sub-Saharan Africa, progress is much slower and is another region of concern. Africa's larger population means that more children will be at risk of child marriage.

  • During conflicts or natural disasters, families may have to flee from their homes and, in extreme circumstances, resort to using their children as a way of earning money to survive. If families are extremely poor or experience an unexpected loss of a breadwinner, children can be called upon to help support the family.

    When families are unable to break this cycle of poverty, girls and boys might not get access to education at all, or they may be forced to drop out. Work can be seen as a better use of their time - or the only way to help to support their families to provide food or pay off debts.

    Child labourers are particularly vulnerable to abuse, and their families are often trapped in a cycle of poverty. Children can be forced to work under threat of violence or death, or they can fall ill and get injured.

  • Child labour is destructive and debilitating - it is estimated that children who have to work instead of going to school increase their likelihood of being poor in later life by as much as 30%. Children can also be forced to work in dangerous conditions, affecting both their physical and mental wellbeing.

    Such jobs include:

    Mining - With a constant risk of major injury or death, mining is extremely dangerous. Many view it as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Each day children risk their lives without any other choice.

    Working in factories - Exposed to a factory environment with no health and safety regulations, children are forced to work in unhealthy atmospheres with toxic air, heavy machinery and hazardous chemicals.

    Illegal trading - Using children to sell illegal goods on the streets, including drug-related products to gangs, exposes them to things they shouldn’t see or know about at such a young and crucial age.

    There are also cases where children have worked in agriculture or in domestic work, seeing their school attendance suffer as a result of working long hours.

  • Children are engaged in child labour around the world, but some practices are more common in certain places.

    Mining is particularly common in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where children work long hours in gold mines, without clean water.

    Child labour in factories is typically seen in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, where children are made to work in clothing factories, producing garments.

    Other instances occur in the tobacco industry, where companies have been associated with using labour in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malawi, the USA and Zimbabwe.

    World Vision is currently working in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic with children caught up in armed groups, in harmful agricultural practices, in sexual exploitation and in the mining of minerals.

  • Although child soldiers are often forcefully recruited, it is not actually the most common way that children become involved in armed conflict. It is usually the desperate circumstances, leading to a lack of other options, often coupled with coercion, that leads to child soldier recruitment. That's why World Vision works with children, their families and communities to tackle the root causes of the child soldier problem, and prevent them from getting involved with armed groups in any capacity.

    These include:

    Lack of educational and employment opportunities - In areas of armed conflict, people can find themselves in refugee camps, or in other informal settlements where education and income opportunities are severely limited. In this case, joining an armed group becomes an employment or survival strategy.

    Poverty and lack of basic necessities - This is a common motivator. When food and resources become scarce, the offer of a warm bed and readily available food is difficult to resist. Poverty is also a root cause of girls becoming child soldiers, where they are often sexually exploited as ‘wives’ or become spies.

    Lack of familial relationships or sense of belonging - In times of uncertainty or displacement due to armed conflict, children often leave school, their homes, villages and even countries, leading to a sense of isolation. When this happens, children may experience a loss of personal identity and becoming a child soldier provides a sense of identity in that they now belong to a community, however misguided.

    Ongoing insecurity and displacement - During times of protracted violence, when families are internally displaced or have to cross borders as refugees, their lives become chaotic and disruptive. This chaos can result in separation between family members, including children from their parents. This separation leaves children without any means of safety or security, so they choose to become child soldiers as a form of protection.

  • While the physical effects of being a child soldier are varied, the horrors of armed conflict do leave long-lasting psychological effects. When children are repeatedly exposed to traumatic stress during development, it leaves them with mental and physical ill-health, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe personality changes. In some cases, children may be forced to take drugs that can change the child’s temperament and negatively impact their personality. There are also alarming cases of physical maiming, however the main damage is psychological.

    The consequences are also further-reaching than just the recruited child. Other children become victims of the armed group’s violence and the cycle of trauma continues.

  • The recruitment and use of children as armed actors is identified as one of the six grave violations of children’s rights according to international law, as the practice is an affront to the safety, dignity and healthy development of children. Despite this, there are at least 18 conflicts around the world where children have participated in hostilities since 2016.

    The UN has identified 14 countries where children have been widely used as soldiers. These countries are Afghanistan, Colombia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

More of our work to end violence against children

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