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Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS): towards a global surveillance system

Abstract

Objective To describe the Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS). The survey is a national, household survey that systematically measures the prevalence, nature and consequences of sexual, physical and emotional violence against children.

Design This report provides information about the history, implementation, ethical protections, utility, results, limitations, and future directions of the VACS work.

Results The study has been implemented in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, providing each of these countries with baseline data and momentum to address violence against children as a public health and human rights priority. These data are novel in each country, and VACS is well poised to contribute to an existing surveillance system or be used as the basis of a periodic surveillance system.

Conclusions Without ongoing surveillance to assess prevalence and the impact of policy, prevention and response programming, violence will likely continue to be overlooked as the linchpin public health crisis that it is, globally and in individual countries.

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