Highlights from the first-ever violence against children and youth survey conducted exclusively in a humanitarian setting

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: Violence against children (VAC) has garnered attention as a priority issue, in part, due to the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS). Although children are disproportionately represented among forcibly displaced people, VACS are a novelty in humanitarian settings. Objective: This paper presents the approach to the first-ever VACS conducted exclusively in a humanitarian setting (HVACS) in Uganda, in addition to providing an overview of the results of this novel survey, along with their implications. Participants and setting: Participants included 1338 females and 927 males aged 13–24 years living in refugee settlements in Uganda. Methods: This was a cross-sectional representative household survey conducted in all 13 refugee settlements in Uganda between March and April 2022. A three-stage sampling process was used to identify participants. Descriptive analysis was conducted, involving the application of sample weights to obtain estimates that are representative of the study population. Results: VAC in refugee settings is pervasive, with females being more likely than males to experience sexual violence and males being more likely than females to experience physical violence. VAC perpetrators were mostly people who were known to child survivors. Whereas knowledge of where to seek help for violence was relatively high (more so for males compared to females), the levels of disclosure and help-seeking were very low for both groups. Conclusion: Robust surveys that have traditionally excluded humanitarian settings can be conducted in these contexts. Data emanating from such surveys are critical for developing relevant guidance on interventions to appropriately address major public health issues, such as VAC.






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