The present report evaluates the results of World Vision’s strategy for violence against children in five countries of Latin America: Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. The data shows all aspects of children and adolescents’ lives: from their experiences at home and school to the broad atmosphere of their communities. Changes in attitudes, perceptions, norms and laws are seen to be the key driving factors for the creation of safe spaces where children and adolescents and fully and freely develop. Taking into account that violence against children is a structural-caused phenomenon, all of the members of society have a share of responsibility in the issue, including children themselves. World Vision programs look for the empowerment of children to maximize their capacities of leadership and productivity, providing the tools for the future adults to be agents of change. In the meantime, families, government institutions, faith congregations and local communities must work together to enforce laws that prevent violence to happen and to modify the behavior of grown adults.
The report has the following key findings:
1. Children and adolescents reported feeling safer in their homes and at school, including going to and from school.
2. The use of corporal punishment at home had decreased
3. Social norms around the use of corporal punishment are changing
4. There is an increase in children’s and adolescents’ knowledge about their rights
5. Schools had become less violent environments for children and adolescents, with reported reductions in bullying, peer-to-peer violence and the use of corporal punishment by teachers and school administrators.
6. Children and adolescents had a stronger sense of agency with regards to their rights and protection
7. More appropriate local mechanisms for reporting abuse were in place
8. There had been successful influence on public policy and laws for child protection, including better implementation of existing laws
9. Capacity building with child protection actors is leading to better support services to prevent and respond to cases of abuse
10. World Vision has served as a catalyst, convening formal and non-formal actors to work together in a coordinated manner to strengthen child protection systems.
11. There was a greater awareness of and commitment to child rights and protection within the communities evaluated.
As well as the following recommendations to World Vision and civil society organizations
1. Utilize a broad-based approach to monitoring violence against children.
2. Strengthen the use of evidence-based approaches to transform social norms on child protection
3. Ensure that the improvements to the child protection system and the positive outcomes are sustainable
4. Support the development of children’s and adolescents’ relationships with local child protection system entry points
5. Conduct ongoing outreach, engagement and monitoring of the most vulnerable children
6. Continue to encourage the meaningful participation of children and adolescents in child protection systems strengthening
7. Increase investment in child protection
8. Support the improved implementation, coordination and monitoring of child protection policies and legal frameworks with effectiveness and integrity
9. Take steps towards addressing ‘hot spots’ for violence against children
10. Improve access to and quality of support services, including mental health and psychosocial services for children and adolescents
11. Integrate social protection initiatives into efforts to reduce violence against children and strengthen child protection