Three in four young adults in Uganda have experienced some form of violence during their childhood, according to Uganda’s first ever Violence Against Children Survey, launched today by the Government of Uganda and its partners.
The Uganda Violence Against Children (VAC) Survey provides nationally representative data on the prevalence, nature and consequences of physical, emotional and sexual violence against children in Uganda, and provides sub-national estimates of violence against children.
“This survey brings to light the widespread nature and problem of violence against children in the country,” said Hon. Hajat Janat Mukwaya, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
“The findings provide crucial evidence that will help guide the Government in our policy and programme decisions to better prevent and respond to violence against children across the country in the future.”
Some of the key findings from the survey include:
- 3 in 4 young adults experienced some form of violence during childhood.
- 1 in 3 young adults experienced at least two forms of violence – of either sexual, physical and emotional violence – during childhood.
- Half of all 18-24 year old Ugandans believe it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife.
- Among 18-24 year olds, 1 in 3 females (35%) and one in six males (17%) experienced sexual abuse during their childhood
- 1 in 4 young adults who experienced sexual abuse during childhood first experienced it at the age of 13 or younger
- Children who suffered sexual abuse experienced higher mental distress than children who didn’t.
- The majority of young adults – 6 in 10 females (59%) and 7 in 10 males (68%) – experienced physical violence during their childhood, with nearly half experiencing it at the hands of parents or adult caregivers
- Among those who were subjected to physical violence by an adult, their first experience was nearly always committed by a teacher (94% for females and 86% for males)
- 1 in 4 children missed school after experiencing physical violence.
- Among 18-24 year olds, 1 in 3 experienced some form of emotional or verbal violence during their childhood
- The most common perpetrator of emotional or verbal violence was a child’s mother or stepmother (41% for females and 35% for males)
- Children who experience emotional violence were more likely to think of killing themselves than those who didn’t
The survey further highlights that violence against children occurs at all levels of Ugandan society – in homes, schools and communities, among other places – with survivors suffering negative physical, mental, social and cognitive consequences.
It also stresses that children who experience violence are more likely to become perpetrators of violence against children themselves in the future, fueling an inter-generational cycle of violence in the decades to come.
“The findings of this survey make it shockingly clear – Ugandan children commonly experience violence, which often harms their development and, in some instances, devastates their lives,” said Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF’s Representative to Uganda.
“This situation must therefore serve as a call to action to all people who influence children across Uganda – especially those responsible for nurturing them, such as parents and teachers – to change their attitudes from tolerating and committing violence against children to rejecting it and holding all of those who perpetrate it accountable.”
The survey was conducted by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with support from AfriChild Centre for Excellence, ChildFund, PEPFAR, Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation Uganda (TPO), Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), USAID, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF.
Uganda is the latest among several countries such as Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Cambodia, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Laos, Rwanda, Botswana, Honduras and El Salvador, that have completed data collection for similar Violence Against Children Surveys.