Current Status + Progress
Physical violence against children not only inflicts harm, pain and humiliation on children; it also kills

According to General Comment No. 13 on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, physical violence takes both fatal and non-fatal forms and encompasses physical torture, cruel and inhuman physical punishment, physical bullying and hazing, and corporal punishment.[i] It involves someone using an object or part of his or her body to physically harm a child and/or control a child’s actions. Physical violence against children can be committed by anyone, although adults in positions of trust and authority (such as caregivers and teachers) are often cited as perpetrators. Acts of physical force against children are also common among peers. Extensive research on the experience of physical violence during childhood

Homicides

In 2012 alone, homicide took the lives of about 95,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 – almost 1 in 5 of all homicide victims that year
Percentage distribution of all homicide victims in 2012, by age group

Source: World Health Organization, Global Health Estimates (GHE)

Summary Tables: Deaths by cause, age, sex and region, 2012, WHO, Geneva, 2014, recalculated by UNICEF.

Latin America and the Caribbean has the largest share of homicides among children and adolescents in the world
Number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years and number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years per 100,000 population in 2012, by region

Note: Figures in this table have been rounded.

Source: World Health Organization, Global Health Estimates (GHE)

Summary Tables: Deaths by cause, age, sex and region, 2012, WHO, Geneva, 2014, recalculated by UNICEF.

Homicide rates among boys are higher than those among girls in every region
Number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years per 100,000 population in 2012, by sex and by region

Source: World Health Organization, Global Health Estimates (GHE)

Summary Tables: Deaths by cause, age, sex and region, 2012, WHO, Geneva, 2014, recalculated by UNICEF.

The three countries with the highest homicide rates in the world among children and adolescents are all in Latin America and the Caribbean
Number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years per 100,000 population in 2012, in the 10 countries with the highest homicide rates among this population group

Source: World Health Organization, Global Health Estimates (GHE)

Summary Tables: Deaths by cause, age, sex and region, 2012, WHO, Geneva, 2014, recalculated by UNICEF.

More than half of all young homicide victims worldwide were killed in 10 countries
Number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years in 2012, in the 10 countries with the largest numbers of victims among this population group

Source: World Health Organization, Global Health Estimates (GHE)

Summary Tables: Deaths by cause, age, sex and region, 2012, WHO, Geneva, 2014, recalculated by UNICEF.

More than half of young homicide victims are between the ages of 15 and 19
Number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years in 2012, by age group

Note: Figures in this table have been rounded.

Source: World Health Organization, Global Health Estimates (GHE)

Summary Tables: Deaths by cause, age, sex and region, 2012, WHO, Geneva, 2014, recalculated by UNICEF.

Non-fatal physical violence among adolescent girls and boys

Almost one quarter of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide (almost 70 million) report being victims of some form of physical violence since age 15
Percentage of girls aged 15 to 19 years who experienced any physical violence
since age 15 and percentage of girls aged 15 to 19 years who experienced any
physical violence in the last 12 months

Notes: Data on the proportions of adolescent girls who experienced any physical violence in the last 12 months are not available for Colombia, Honduras, Peru and Rwanda. Data for the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Cambodia, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan refer to ever-married girls aged 15 to 19 years. Data on the proportion of adolescent girls who experienced any physical violence since age 15 are not available for the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Data for Colombia and Peru refer only to physical violence committed by someone other than the current or most recent spouse or partner. Data for the Marshall Islands are based on 25-49 unweighted cases. Data for Kazakhstan are from MICS 2010-2011, which used an adapted version of the DHS module on domestic violence.

Source: UNICEF global databases, 2014, based on Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), 2005-2013.

In five countries, at least one in four adolescent boys report incidents of physical violence since age 15
Percentage of boys aged 15 to 19 years who experienced any physical violence since age 15 and percentage of boys aged 15 to 19 who experienced any physical violence in the last 12 months

Notes: Data on the proportion of adolescent boys who experienced any physical violence since age 15 are not available for the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Data for Ukraine refer to any physical violence committed by someone other than the boys’ current spouses or partners.

Source: UNICEF global databases, 2014, based on DHS, 2007-2011.


[i] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, UN document CRC/C/GC/13, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, 18 April 2011.

 

Methodology

For further details, see: United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014.