UNICEF is committed to keeping children protected from violence, exploitation and abuse. We work closely with governments, partner organizations and communities to prevent all forms of violence against children.
Over one billion children experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence every year. It happens in every country, and in places where children should feel safe, like their home or school.
Children living in areas affected by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies are especially vulnerable. They may be forced to flee their homes, get separated from their families, or be recruited to fight by armed forces. Girls are at even higher risk of gender-based violence in these situations.
Certain cultural practices also pose a risk to children’s safety. Hundreds of millions of girls have been subjected to child marriage and female genital mutilation, even though both are internationally recognized human rights violations.
The consequences of child maltreatment are harmful, lasting, and often deadly for children.
MORE WORK IS NEEDED TO ENSURE CHILDREN ARE PROTECTED
- Nearly 1 in 10 children are working instead of attending school
- 36.5 million children were forced to leave their homes by the end of 2021
- 640 million girls and women alive today were married before they turned 18
WHAT UNICEF IS DOING TO PROTECT CHILDREN
From promoting birth registration to providing services that help children feel safe and supported, UNICEF is there to ensure children grow up protected from harm.
We work with our partners in more than 150 countries to protect children from physical, mental and emotional harm. We support survivors of all forms of violence, and we provide them with the mental health and psychosocial services they need to recover. We strengthen child protection systems to help children access vital social services, from birth through adolescence.
We also work alongside communities to accelerate the elimination of harmful cultural practices like child marriage (also sometimes referred to as early marriage), and female genital mutilation (FGM).
During crises, UNICEF works with our partners and communities to keep children safe, from preventing and addressing gender-based violence to helping with family reunification.
UNICEF also works closely with partners like the International Labour Organization to ensure that children affected by child trafficking and child labour, especially in conflict areas, are protected and safe.
UNICEF WORKS IN THESE AREAS OF CHILD PROTECTION
- Birth registration
- Child marriage
- Migrant and displaced children
- Female genital mutilation
- Violence against children
- Gender-based violence
- Children recruited by armed forces
- Protection from explosive weapons
- Family separation during crisis
- Children in alternative care
- Mental health and emotional support
- Sexual exploitation and abuse
- Children in contact with the law
- Social service workers
LEARN MORE ABOUT UNICEF’S ROLE IN CHILD PROTECTION
Child marriage, also known as early marriage, robs girls of their childhood and threatens their well-being. Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence, be less educated and have worse health than those who are unmarried at that age. UNICEF works with our partners to help empower young girls and identify and address the systemic barriers to gender equality.
Whether because of conflict, poverty, climate change or the hope of finding a better life, millions of children are on the move. Many children face numerous difficulties on their journeys, at their destination or upon return. From providing life-saving humanitarian supplies in refugee camps to running child-friendly spaces, UNICEF is there to protect the rights of children on the move.
A quarter of children born today are deprived of birth certificates. Children without a birth certificate are unable to prove their age or access supports like health care, and they are more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. UNICEF’s work focuses on helping governments strengthen their civil registration systems, and making information and services related to birth registration widely available.
In 2022 thanks to your support:
- 4.7 million children who experienced violence received health, social work and justice services;
- Over 5 million women and children received gender-based violence prevention interventions;
- Nearly 17.2 million adolescent girls received child marriage prevention and care interventions.