Ending violence against children and youth

Violence against children is pervasive and destructive. It compromises children’s development and threatens their survival.

UNICEF figures put the number of children who suffer from violence every year between 500-million and 1.5 billion.  More than one in four girls and one in seven boys experience sexual violence before the age of 18.

Consistently in most countries surveyed with the Violence Against Children Surveys half of girls and boys report having experienced physical violence.

International human rights standards are essential to end violence against children. This is why these rights are protected under international human rights conventions to which Canada is a party.

One of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against, and torture of, children.”

Canada is committed to the survival, protection and healthy development of children around the world. This commitment includes support to help galvanize action to end violence, exploitation and abuse against children.

The long-lasting effects of violence

This violence is afflicted in many different settings including homes, communities, schools, workplaces and institutions. Girls and young women are particularly vulnerable, including to harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage.
Along with risk of death, children subjected to violence in its many forms are at increased risk of:

How we protect vulnerable children and youth

Working closely with trusted partners, Canada supports the implementation of a country-owned child protection systems approach in developing countries to:

Working with partners to improve accountability

Canada also works in collaboration with our international partners, including other donors, UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation to end violence against children.

We want to improve the quality of child protection programs and use evidence-based national planning.

This effort includes support for Together for Girls, a global public-private partnership that advocates for children to be safe, empowered and free. The goal is to end the human rights violations, public health impacts and long-term consequences associated with violence against children, especially sexual violence against girls.

To address gaps in accountability and reporting we have provided support both the:

We also work directly with individual countries build national plans of action and strengthen child protection systems.

These national strategies and action plans will help prevent and respond to all forms of violence, and promote national systems of data collection, analysis and dissemination.

Minimum standards for child protection in humanitarian situations

Canada has supported the release of the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action.

We also encourage Canadian and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seeking international humanitarian assistance funding to aspire to these standards.

Combatting child trafficking

Children and women account for the vast majority of those exploited for labour and sexual purposes. Canada’s targeted activities include commitments to child protection under the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking,
We support programming to prevent the trafficking of children, capacity-building exercises for government and non-governmental actors, education and training programs.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children seeks to combat transnational organized crime. The Protocol works to:

Child protection activities achieving results


The project Protecting Children's Education in South-West Colombia is implemented by a consortium made up of Save the Children Canada and the Norwegian Refugee Council. It aims to improve the quality of education that approximately 80,800 in-school children and youth are receiving. It also seeks to reintegrate 38,800 out-of-school children and youth in formal schools or in Flexible Education Models.


Support for the Child Protection Programme seeks to protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse, and discrimination. Some of the ways it will tackle this is by seeking the support of traditional and religious leaders for child protection, developing a social work curriculum and implementing a national birth registry.  The project is estimated to help 4.5 million children.


The Canadian Support for Child Protection and Juvenile Justice Reform project enhances the protective environment of 870,000 boys, girls and adolescents in 35 municipalities of Honduras. It does this by increasing the capacity and coordination of municipal actors involved in promoting, protecting and restoring the rights of children.

South Africa

We support the Child Protection Surveillance Project, helping to increase the capacity of the South African Department of Social Development, as well as provincial and civil society partners, to provide child protection services across South Africa. The study will provide the framework and foundation for the development of a national surveillance system on child abuse, neglect and exploitation.


We provide additional funding to the ongoing Juvenile Justice Reform project. Originally started in 2007, this project is helping establish a more effective and responsive juvenile justice system, and bring it in line with international standards.

Check out our International development project browser for more examples of action.

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