The Legacy of Violence Against Children

According to a new review article published in the journal Psychology, Health, and Medicine, more than one billion children—half of all children in the world—are exposed to violence every year. The violence children are exposed to includes both direct experiences of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as indirectly witnessing violence in their homes, schools, and communities. What these various forms of violence share, based on a review of the literature, is their enduring potential for life-long consequences. These consequences include increases in the risks of injury, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, mental health problems, reproductive health problems, and non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes. Studies addressing biologic underpinnings of such consequences demonstrate that violence-associated toxic stress may cause damage to the nervous, endocrine, circulatory, musculo-skeletal, reproductive, respiratory, and immune systems. Furthermore, rigorous economic evaluations suggest that costs associated with the consequences of violence against children exceed $120 billion in the U.S. and account for up to 3.5% of the GDP in sub-regions of East Asia. The expanding literature confirming the mechanisms of consequences and the associated costs of violence against children has been accompanied by growing evidence on effective approaches to prevention. Moreover, the expanding evidence on prevention has been accompanied by a growing determination on the part of global leaders to accelerate action. Thus, as part of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda, the UN has issued a call-to-action: to eliminate violence against children. This unprecedented UN call may foster new investments, to fuel new progress for protecting children around the world from violence and its preventable consequences.

For the abstract


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