The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 945–963 | Cite as

Violence Against Children: A Critical Issue for Development

  • Anke Hoeffler


Violence against children is a human rights challenge. According to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.2, all violence against children should be eliminated. This paper discusses how violence against children can be defined and which forms it takes. Parental violence in the form of physical discipline is highly prevalent, particularly in low-income countries. This violence causes suffering, has serious health consequences and reduces human capital. This article estimates that 311 million children are subjected to severe forms of physical punishment, equivalent to 17.5 per cent of all children worldwide. In contrast to other forms of violence (e.g. civil wars and terrorism), ‘every day’ violence against children receives little attention in development research, despite the high prevalence rates and resulting adverse consequences for societal development. This special issue presents evidence from promising parenting interventions for violence reduction in low-income settings in Kenya, Liberia and Uganda.


Violence UN Sustainable Development Goals Corporal punishment Child development 

La violence à l’égard des enfants est un défi pour les droits humains. Selon l’Objectif 16.2 de Développement Durable, toute violence à l’égard des enfants devrait être éliminée. Cet article traite de la manière dont la violence à l’égard des enfants peut être définie et quelle forme elle prend. La violence parentale sous forme de châtiment corporel est très répandue, en particulier dans les pays à faible revenu. Cette violence provoque des souffrances, a de graves conséquences sur la santé et réduit le capital humain. Cet article estime que 311 millions d’enfants sont soumis à de graves formes de châtiment corporel : cela équivaut à 17,5% de la totalité des enfants dans le monde. Contrairement à d’autres formes de violence, la violence “quotidienne” à l’égard des enfants reçoit peu d’attention dans la recherche sur le développement, malgré les taux de prévalence élevés et les conséquences néfastes qui en découlent pour le développement de la société. Ce numéro spécial présente des preuves d’interventions d’éducation parentale prometteuses pour la réduction de la violence dans les zones à faible revenu au Kenya, au Libéria et en Ouganda.



I would like to thank Laura Camfield, Nicola Boydell, James Fearon, Godfrey Siu, Eve Puffer, Mariette de Haan, Vanessa Watson and Daniel Wright for helpful comments and suggestions. Asfandyar Mir provided excellent research assistance. All remaining errors are my own. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number 290752(NOPOOR project) and the John Fell Foundation.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of African Economies, Department of EconomicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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