Violence against children (*)

The protection of the child from all forms of violence is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and other international human rights treaties and standards. However, violence against children remains a relatively hidden problem and a huge rate of abuse goes undetected. Most violence against children takes place in the home environment, but some children and young people are at particular risk of violence because of structural factors. . Effective coordination and cooperation in integrated and multi-disciplinary child protection systems is advocated as best practice at a European level as a means to ensure that duty-bearers work together to prevent and intervene when children are at risk of and/or experience violence. 

European projects

Participation for Protection (Participation for Protection, P4P) - Achieve an integrated and multidisciplinary child-oriented approach to child victims of violence.

Coordination: Dr. Siobhan McAlister, Queens University of Belfast (UK)

Researcher: Katrien Herbots and Sara Lembrechts 

Supervisors: Prof. Stefaan Pleysier and Prof. Johan Put (Leuven Institute of Criminology)

Project duration: 1st of December 2017 until the 30th of November 2019

Project objective: To integrate the views and experiences of children and young people into training programs on child protection and youth care

Other partners: Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Menschenrechte Forschungsverein (AUT), Hochschule Rheinmain (DEU), National University of Ireland Galway (IRL), Universitatea Babes Bolyai (ROU), Include Youth (UK) and University of Nottingham (UK)


KeKi, together with the Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC), is a partner in an European research project, coordinated by the Queens University of Belfast (UK). The aim of the project is to enhance and support an integrated and multidisciplinary child-centered approach for child victims of violence, to increase the knowledge of reporting mechanisms and support structures for children and young people, and to improve their treatment and involvement in services and systems in Europe. To this end, training programs on child protection and youth care are developed for professionals who work with children and young people. This project is based on a children's rights model in which children and young people are involved throughout the entire process through Children and Young People Advisory. Groups (CYPAGs).

During the project, we consulted with over 1300 children and young people, aged 8-18 years, across the partner countries regarding their views on what constitutes harm, what helps in terms of disclosure and what makes for good service responses. Consultations involved children in schools, and specific groups at risk of, or already experiencing violence, including: children in care; children in detention/ in conflict with the law; Roma or Traveller children; children living in high conflict communities; child migrants and refugees; children with experience of domestic violence; and children who identify as LGBTQ+.

Importantly, two children and young people’s advisory groups, based in Northern Ireland, were recruited from St Ita’s Primary School, Include Youth’s Give and Take Programme and Newstart Education Centre. They informed key aspects of the project such as developing consultation tools to use with other children and young people, and interpreting the data to draw out key messages from the consultations that provided a framework for the training programme.

The project originated from the belief that while there may be training resources for trainees and professionals who work with children experiencing violence, or at risk of violence, these are often developed by adults and hence from an adult perspective. The P4P team wanted to understand from children’s perspectives: what constituted violence; what might act as barriers to disclosing violence and seeking support; what constituted useful support; and how professionals could better respond to their needs.

Taking all of the information children provided us with through surveys, focus groups and workshops, we have worked with two advisory groups of children to develop the following resources.

You can find all the resources for professionals here. These include: 

  • A training package that includes four modules on the key themes emerging from all of our work with children:
    • 1. Children and young people’s experiences and understandings of violence;
    • 2. Children and young people’s help seeking behaviours;
    • 3. Children’s rights and violence;
    • 4. Services and supports. In the section on additional resources are further resources trainers might want to use when delivering training on some or all of these topics.
  • A facilitation pack for others who want to explore the issue of violence with children in an ethical, sensitive and non-intrusive manner.
  • A checklist based on children’s views of ‘good’ or effective engagement when they have needed support. Professionals can use this to assess their own practice from a child’s perspective.
  • Additional resources – we collected lots of information in this project that can be used by professionals, trainers or students to inform their work and their practice. This includes:
    • Country-specific information on safeguarding standards and reporting mechanisms. For the country-specific information related to Belgium/Flanders, click here
    • a consultation tool/survey co-designed with children;
    • a summary of the results from the survey;
    • a summary of findings from focus groups with vulnerable groups;
    • factsheets on the experiences of six groups at risk of experiencing violence (children in care; children in conflict with the law, child migrants and refugees, Travellers and Roma children, children who identify as LGBTQ+, children who experience domestic violence)

You can find all the resources for children and young people here. This include:

  • ​A child-friendly summary of the survey findings
  • A sign posting leaflet for children. This was designed by the advisory groups as a way to inform other children about violence, and some local supports.
  • A short animation co-produced by children: you can find it here

For more information:

Commissioner: European Union - Directorate-General Justice and Consumer Affairs

DISCLAIMER: The content of this project represents the views of the authors only and is their sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.