Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children
. 5 - 7 July 2005 Ljubljana, Slovenia  
Europe and Central Asia






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For children violence can last forever

WHO Regional Office for Europe

For the survivors of violence, the impact lasts a lifetime. The consequences and negative impact of violence on the health and wellbeing of the affected person, though in many cases difficult to detect, are often long standing.
To increase awareness about child abuse and support the development of prevention strategies in public health, the 1999 WHO consultation on Child Abuse Prevention drafted the following definition.

Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment of commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.

This definition covers a broad spectrum of child abuse/maltreatment by caregivers usually grouped in four types: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect.

Evidence on the longterm impact of child abuse,, highlights increased risky behaviors on the part of victims later in life, eventually leading to chronic disease and disorders up to death.

• Exposure to child abuse is associated with a 4 to 12 fold increase in risk for alcoholism, drug use disorders, depression, and suicide attempts later in life.
• Over 40% of child abuse cases correlate with spousal abuse (UK finding)
• In Romania 84% of children reveal physical punishment by their parents and caregivers, including 20% being beaten by an object and 15% being afraid to go home because of beatings. 9% said that they had been victims of sexual abuse, 5.7% of sexual abuse was reported to have been initiated by a parent.

The health sector has a critical role in the early detection of violence in children. This could avoid a range of negative health and social consequences, including chronic suffering as well as sexual violence, intimate partner violence and youth violence. As for child protection, the delivery of effective primary prevention requires the coordinated working together of different sectors. The evidence for home visitation and for programmes that focus on family relationships and functioning is among the best practices for reducing child abuse and its negative outcomes.

For more information, contact:


Cristiana Salvi

Technical Officer for Communication and Advocacy

WHO Regional Office for Europe

European Centre for Environment and Health

Rome , Italy

Tel.: +39 06 4877543. Fax: +39 06 4877599. Mobile : +39 348 0192305


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