Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Regina* is 17 years old. She called the helpline to seek help in escaping ongoing sexual abuse.

Both Regina’s parents are deceased. She lives with her married older sister, who struggles to make ends meet for her own children – let alone Regina.

Regina grew up in poverty after her father died. She felt like an outcast at school because her mother could not afford to buy new clothes, shoes or books, or pay for her bus fare to school.

She became isolated from her peers and developed very low self-esteem.

Regina first faced sexual abuse when she was just 14. She was lured to a hotel room by a man from her community. Regina reports the man is in his 50s. Since then, she has experienced regular abuse.

Initial discussion

My first conversation with Regina was an invitation. I asked if she would feel comfortable to talk to me about what she was going through.

Regina began to explain her situation and her feelings. She cried as she told me about all the hurt she had been feeling for years.

The abuse had already affected Regina’s academic performance, and she had also lost her appetite and a lot of weight.

I identified that Regina was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

I explained how she could report the abuse to the police and confide in her sister so she could get protection and escape the situation.

I also encouraged her to change her phone number and stop communicating with the perpetrator.

The counsellor speaking at a school

Follow up phone calls

I made follow up calls every week to support Regina and check on her progress.

Once she was free from her abuser, I helped her to deal with the emotional impact of the abuse.

I helped her to see ways she could feel confident again, how to think about a brighter future and to focus on school and finishing her education.

the counsellor in the helpline office

Other Notes

Regina learned about the helpline when we visited her school to educate students about physical and sexual violence.

We make school visits to raise awareness about the helpline, and help put an end to violence against children.

Our visit empowered Regina to fight back and take control of her situation. Until then, she could not see an alternative to her abusive situation.


Counselling has helped Regina feel more psychologically and emotionally stable. She has been able to understand her self-worth and has escaped her abuser.

Overall, she has recovered emotionally, is more confident, and has regained some control over her life.

Finally, Regina now feels mentally prepared for school, and knows that she can pursue her dreams and look forward to a brighter future.

* Name has been changed to protect the child’s identity

In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); a global framework for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.

The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change, with each of the 17 goals including targets and indicators that all UN Member States must achieve by 2030.

For the first time in history, we now have a global target focused on increasing protection for children. SDG target 16.2 represents a ground-breaking commitment by UN Member States to end all forms of violence and exploitation against children (EVAC).

This commitment to end violence against children is also integrated into other global goals, such as ending child labour (SDG 8) and achieving quality education and safe learning environments (SDG 4).

The ChildFund Alliance actively contributed to the positioning of SDG target 16.2 as a core element within the 2030 agenda.

Our 3-year Free from Violence and Exploitation campaign included consultations with children in over 50 countries. This gave young people around the world the opportunity to share their vision for the future, as well as their views on the violence and exploitation perpetrated against them.

Their call for a safer world for children has guided ChildFund’s efforts to promote implementation of target 16.2.

Since the adoption of the SDGs, a group of leading agencies (including the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank) have developed the INSPIRE Strategies.

These present a broad range of economic, political and social evidence-based approaches that governments and their partners can use to turn target 16.2 into action. Already, 26 Member States have made a formal commitment to action to end all forms of violence against children.

Building on ChildFund Alliance’s decades of experience in child protection programming, its 11 members are now implementing a range of projects around the world focused on EVAC.

The ChildFund Alliance is also calling on governments to further advance progress towards the achievement of SDG target 16.2 and other violence-related targets. In particular, we are urging governments to take the following actions:

  • Analyse gaps in child protection systems and create and implement policies to address those gaps and end violence against children.
  • Increase financial commitments and actual investment to end violence against children.
  • Meaningfully involve children in the development and implementation of child protection policies, as well as within SDG review processes.
  • Effectively prevent and respond to violence against children by adopting evidence-based INSPIRE strategies and demonstrate leadership on ending violence against children.
  • Report on target 16.2 and related targets in SDG monitoring and evaluation efforts.

At the ChildFund Alliance, we know that violence against children is preventable, but action is needed by all stakeholders – governments, civil society organisations, children and youth – if we are to build safer communities and realise a world free from violence for all young people.

Download a copy of Building Momentum: A call for action to end violence against children, an overview of ChildFund Alliance projects around the world that are working to end violence and exploitation against children.