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






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World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation”. This includes sexual violence, child maltreatment, suicide and other forms of violence.

Violence makes some 257,000 deaths annually in the European Region, of which 164,000 self inflicted violence, 73,000 homicides and assaults, and 19,000 war. Children and young people are at high risk with nearly 4 children under 15, losing their lives from homicide and assault on an average day. This figure could be underestimated as it does not include murders which may be incorrectly classified as suicides or un-intentional injuries
(e.g. accidental falls, drowning, poisoning).

Abuse is most likely to happen in the “private sphere” of home and family where European infants and young children spend up to 90% of their time. The Region shows inequalities as child mortality from homicide is nearly three times higher in the Commonwealth of Independent States than it is in the European Union. Anyway, official statistics reveal little about the levels and patterns of child abuse since only the most severe cases are reported.

See map (Homicide and assault) and graphics (Trends in standardised death rates from homicide for children 0-14)

Deaths are only the tip of the iceberg as for every lost life, hundreds may be left with a long-lasting physical or psychological disability. Most of this human suffering is preventable.

In March 2005, WHO Regional Office for Europe launched its new programme on violence and injuries prevention, in response to the growing need for a health contribution to this multifaceted problem. Through this programme, WHO advocates the reduction of violence and un-intentional injuries by promoting a public health approach to prevention in Europe. This approach is science based with integrated working between different sectors.

To prevent child abuse, health workers, social services, schools, the judicial system and the police in particular are called to collaborate closely.

Preventing violence: a guide to implementing the recommendations of the World report on violence and health (2004)
Young people’s health in context. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: international report from the 2001/2002 survey (2004)
The economic dimensions of interpersonal violence (2004)
Burden of disease attributable to selected environmental factors and injuries among Europe's children and adolescents (2004)
Guidelines for medico-legal care for victims of sexual violence (2003)
World report on violence and health (2002)
World report on violence and health - Summary

Fact sheets from the World report on violence and health:

  Child abuse
  Collective violence
  Self-directed violence
  Sexual violence
  Youth violence

Guidelines for conducting community surveys on injuries and violence (2001)

Injury: A leading cause of the global burden of disease (2000)
Violence prevention: an important element of a health-promoting school (1999)







Over 257,000 people die from violence every year in the European region: more than 200 deaths each day result from homicides and assault.

Poster Series on children and adolescents:
"Violence in Red"
"Explaining away violence"

Related Links

WHO Regional Office for Europe

WHO Europe
Violence and Injuries

Violence Prevention Alliance

Global survey on violence and injury prevention: European coverage and implementation

Press releases
Home sweet home
A myth for many children?
March 15th 2005, WHO



The forms of violence

Violence generates violence

For children violence can last forever