Building a Europe for and with children

Action programme "Children and violence"

Violence against children takes many forms. Some of these, such as trafficking or organised paedophilia receive extensive media coverage. Others are more insidious and less easily identifiable. They take place under cover of places that should be havens for children, such as the school, the family or residential institutions, and are often shrouded in secrecy. In many European countries, society tolerates and even approves some recurrent forms of violence against children, in particular those inflicted in the family setting.

Violence against children is a human rights violation. In spite of the many international and regional treaties that protect children's rights, violence against children  remains widespread. It occurs in every country in Europe, irrespective of people's geographical origin or social stratum. Albeit in different degrees, violence can deprive children of their well-being and the ability to learn and socialise normally, and it can leave an indelible imprint on the way their adult lives are lived.

Main themes and settings

The action programme "Children and violence" is based upon the four Ps - prevention, prosecution, protection and participation. It is campaigning against all forms of violence against children, in all settings, through awareness raising, education, training and capacity-building to promote a culture of non-violence and reach a zero level of tolerance. Focus is on the themes of:

Corporal punishment

Sexual abuse

Trafficking in human beings

and in settings where these and other forms of violence can take place, and where special vigilance is needed to ensure that human rights are protected:

In schools

In the family

In  media and cyberspace

In residential institutions

In prison

In the community - street children

National policy reviews

In the context of proposing guidelines and recommendations to member states on violence prevention strategies, the action programme is also conducting a pilot scheme in five countries to review their national policies for protecting children against violence. The far-reaching aim of the policy reviews is to lay the foundation for pan-European guidelines on preventing violence against children.