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Sampling design and methodology of the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys
  1. Kimberly H Nguyen,
  2. Howard Kress,
  3. Andres Villaveces,
  4. Greta M Massetti
  1. Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kimberly H Nguyen, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta 30341, Georgia, USA; uxp1{at}


Introduction Globally 1 billion children are exposed to violence every year. The Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) are nationally representative surveys of males and females ages 13–24 that are intended to measure the burden of sexual, physical and emotional violence experienced in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. It is important to document the methodological approach and design of the VACS to better understand the national estimates that are produced in each country, which are used to drive violence prevention efforts.

Methods This study describes the surveys’ target population, sampling design, statistical considerations, data collection process, priority violence indicators and data dissemination.

Results Twenty-four national household surveys have been completed or are being planned in countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. The sample sizes range from 891 to 7912 among females (72%–98% response rate) and 803–2717 among males (66%–98% response rate). Two face-to-face interviews are conducted: a Household and an Individual Questionnaire. A standard set of core priority indicators are generated for each country that range from prevalence of different types of violence, contexts, risk and protective factors, and health consequences. Results are disseminated through various platforms to expand the reach and impact of the survey results.

Conclusion Data obtained through VACS can inform development and implementation of effective prevention strategies and improve health service provision for all who experience violence. VACS serves as a standardised tool to inform and drive prevention through high-quality, comprehensive data.

  • child abuse
  • violence
  • methodology
  • global
  • surveillance
  • sampling design
  • household surveys

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval All VACS protocols are approved by both the CDC Institutional Review Board (IRB) and ethics bodies in each host country.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.