Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

Sexual abuse of children and adolescents is a gross violation of their rights and a global public health problem. It adversely affects the health of children and adolescents. Health care providers are in a unique position to provide an empathetic response to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused. Such a response can go a long way in helping survivors recover from the trauma of sexual abuse.

WHO has published new clinical guidelines Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused aimed at helping front-line health workers, primarily from low resource settings, in providing evidence-based, quality, trauma-informed care to survivors. The guidelines emphasize the importance of promoting safety, offering choices and respecting the wishes and autonomy of children and adolescents. They cover recommendations for post-rape care and mental health; and approaches to minimizing distress in the process of taking medical history, conducting examination and documenting findings.

To read more about this on the WHO website go to: WHO | Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

Where is it hardest to be a girl?

A girl under 15 is married every seven seconds; others are forced to live a life of modern-day slavery. Around the world, girls are at risk of trafficking, forced labour and sexual violence – especially if a war, earthquake or flood tears their homes apart.

Save the Children has produced a report that throws new light on the many discriminations faced by girls in 144 countries around the world. They have also produced an interactive map enabling readers to compare and contrast the quality of girls’ lives in different countries.

Use the map showing where it is hardest to be a girl on the website

Speed kills – especially children

In the European Region there is no greater threat to the lives of children aged 5–17 years than a road traffic crash. The likelihood of death from road traffic injuries among children in low- and middle-income countries is almost twice as high as among those in high-income countries. Children are vulnerable as road users, whether as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or car occupants. To combat this relentless loss of daily life, the global campaign proposes ten strategies to keep children safe on the roads. These strategies are:

  1. controlling speed on all roads, and in particular enforcing a maximum speed limit of 30 km per hour on roads with high concentrations of pedestrians;
  2. reducing drinking and driving to protect children from this major threat;
  3. using helmets for bicyclists and motorcyclists to reduce the risk of serious head injury;
  4. restraining children in vehicles by using infant car seats, child car seats, booster seats and seat-belts appropriate for a child’s age;
  5. improving children’s visibility through wearing reflective strips, using headlamps on bicycles and motorbikes, appointing crossing guards around schools and enhancing street lighting;
  6. enhancing road infrastructure to slow traffic and separate different types of road users, and creating car free zones;
  7. adapting vehicle design to make safer cars for passengers and pedestrians;
  8. reducing risks for young drivers by introducing graduated driver licensing schemes;
  9. providing appropriate care for injured children with equipment and staff trained to treat         children;
  10. supervising children around roads, to complement the other measures.

To read more about these strategies, click here on

To read the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, click here on

Hate crimes against people with disabilities

People with disabilities have been excluded from mainstream society for centuries, and still face discrimination, stigmatisation and isolation today. Research by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows that violence, harassment and abuse are common experiences for many people with disabilities, creating a formidable barrier to their inclusion and participation in the community.

Some key facts from the FRA include:

  • Disability is not included in the EU’s hate crime legislation
  • Victims of disability hate crime are often reluctant to report their experiences
  • If incidents of disability hate crime are reported, the bias motivation is seldom recorded, making investigation and prosecution less likely.

The FRA believes that:

  • EU and national criminal law provisions relating to hate crime should treat all grounds equally, from racism and xenophobia through to disability
  • The EU and its Member States should systematically collect and publish disaggregated data on hate crime, including hate crime against people with disabilities
  • Law enforcement officers should be trained and alert for indications of bias motivation when investigating crimes
  • Trust-building measures should be undertaken to encourage reporting by disabled victims of bias-motivated or other forms of crime.

To download the document, click here on

Europe unites against online child sexual abuse

The international problem of online child sexual abuse needs an international solution and the European Parliament is calling for united efforts to investigate online child sexual abuse, prosecute offenders, protect child victims and remove illegal online content.

More than 80% of the victims are under 10 years old and Parliament’s call for action states that:

  • any illicit content must be promptly removed and reported to law enforcement authorities, with the ICT industry, internet service providers and internet host providers ensuring fast and efficient removal
  • Europol and national law enforcement authorities should be given the necessary funds, human resources, investigative powers and technical capabilities to “seriously and effectively pursue, investigate and prosecute the offenders”
  • new high-tech capabilities should be developed to meet the challenges of analysing vast amounts of child abuse imagery, including material hidden on the “dark web”
  • the online personal data of children must be protected, and they should be informed in an easy and child-friendly way of the risks and consequences of using their data online
  • awareness-raising campaigns on responsible behaviour in the social media and online sexual abuse prevention programmes should be set up to empower children and support parents and educators in understanding and handling online risks. Hotlines should also be developed to enable children to denounce abuse anonymously
  • International cooperation and transnational investigations must be stepped up, since these crimes span hundreds of countries with different legal jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies.

A new joint initiative by the EU and 55 countries will form the Global Alliance against Child   Sexual Abuse Online. This aims to rescue more victims, ensure more effective prosecution, raise awareness and achieve an overall reduction in the amount of child sexual abuse material available online.

To read more about a project aimed at reducing the victimisation of children on the internet, go to

The role of the health sector in preventing intimate partner violence

Violence against women is an extreme manifestation of gender inequality in society and a serious violation of fundamental human rights.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common type of such violence and can lead to death, physical injury, functional impairment, mental health problems, negative health behaviour, chronic conditions and reproductive health problems.

Institutional discrimination, lack of access to or knowledge of services, and cultural differences can prevent women who are not only experiencing IPV but also migrants or members of ethnic minorities from seeking help.

This policy brief aims to provide input into the role of the health sector in preventing and addressing IPV among migrant women and those of ethnic minorities. It describes the scope of the problem, presenting key evidence, and makes recommendations for health policy and health systems, health facilities and health service providers.

To download the report, click here on

Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014

475,000 people were murdered in 2012, making homicide the third leading cause of death for men between the ages of 15 and 44, according to this report.

This is a 16% decrease since 2000 but non-fatal violence remains widespread, taking a particular toll on women and children.

One in four children has been physically abused; one in five girls has been sexually abused; and one in three women has been a victim of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at some point in her lifetime.

Jointly published by WHO, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the “Global status report on violence prevention 2014” is the first report of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence, namely child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse.

Individual country profiles reflect the extent to which key violence prevention programmes and laws and selected services for victims of violence are being implemented.

Key findings include:

  • one half of countries are implementing school-based programmes to teach children and adolescents “life-skills” such as non-violent conflict resolution;
  • one half of countries are promoting efforts to change gender norms supportive of violence against women
  • one third of countries are putting in place programmes to improve parenting in families at risk of violence;
  • less than one quarter of countries are developing public information campaigns to prevent elder abuse.

The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 calls for a scaling up of violence       prevention programmes in all countries; stronger legislation and enforcement of laws relevant for violence prevention; strengthened justice and security institutions to uphold the rule of law; and enhanced services for victims of violence. It also advocates for better and more effective use of data to inform violence prevention programming and to measure progress.The report is intended for use by governments to help identify gaps and encourage and guide actions and by nongovernmental organizations and experts to assist governments in their efforts.

To read the full report, click here on