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Eighty per cent of services to address violence against children have been disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.

February 4, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic requires increased global commitment to ending violence against children

New research commissioned by child-focused development agencies ChildFund, Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision finds that ending violence against children remains alarmingly underfunded.

This is despite the fact that approximately one billion children experience violence each year, costing world economies up to USD$7 trillion annually.

The research report, Counting Pennies 2, reveals that less than USD$2 billion in total was invested in causes relating to ending violence against children in 2018, with only USD$511 million (less than USD$1 per child) towards specific projects to tackle violence against children.

The agencies warn that COVID-19 is exacerbating protection risks for children, with the report estimating that 80% of services to address violence against children have been disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Margaret Sheehan, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “Measures to contain the virus have resulted in high levels of unemployment and reduced household incomes. In countries where there are no social security nets, this is resulting in high-stress home environments, which increase the likelihood of domestic violence and abuse that children either experience or observe.

“Economic vulnerability could also lead to increases in child labour, child marriage and many other child protection issues. It is vital that world leaders take steps to prevent and respond to increased instances of child violence and exploitation as part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts.”

More positively, the report finds that since its initial research in 2017, investment into ending violence against children has increased by 67%. While this increase in funding has been welcomed by the development agencies, there is significant concern that less than 1% overseas aid funding globally is directed towards ending violence against children.

Ms Sheehan adds: “The results paint a mixed picture. While global funding has increased, we still have a significant way to go if we are to meet our commitment under Sustainable Development Goal 16.2: to end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against children.

“There is an urgent need for initiatives which protect girls and boys. Ending violence against children is achievable and fundamental to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.”

Counting Pennies 2 calls on donors to increase funding to end violence against children in humanitarian and non-humanitarian settings. The report also recommends that the global community should collaborate to produce a defined method for tracking investments into ending violence against children to increase clarity and transparency for all.

Download the Counting Pennies 2 report.