More than half the world’s children—1 billion youths between age 2 and 17—experienced violence during the past year, according to a study of Pediatrics.
It’s a serious and costly public health problem, said authors of the study, “Global Prevalence of Past-Year Violence against Children: A Systematic Review and Minimum Estimates”, which analyzed population-based surveys from 96 different countries.
Early experiences with violence may impair the structure and function of the brain, immune status, metabolic systems, and cellular inflammatory responses, the authors said. This damage places children at greater risk across their lifetimes for mental health problems, infectious diseases such as HIV, and chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The authors stressed that the United Nations’ new Global Partnership to End Violence against Children can catalyze investments in evidence-based strategies such as those outlined in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s THRIVES package.
These strategies include:
Economically strengthening households
Reducing violence through protective policies
Changing social norms that support violence
Teaching kids social-emotional skills