Interpersonal violence affects hundreds of millions of people. But it can be prevented.
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1 in 2 children has experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the past year.
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1 in 4 young people has been bullied in the last year.
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1 in 3 women has suffered intimate partner violence in her lifetime.
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1 in 13 women has been sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
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1 in 6 older people is a victim of abuse every year.
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Globally, almost half a million people are murdered each year.
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See introduction
A global knowledge platform for preventing violence
The Violence Prevention Information System (Violence Info) collates published scientific information on the main types of interpersonal violence. This includes information on prevalence, consequences, risk factors, and prevention and response strategies. It also describes what countries report about their actions to address violence. This version contains most of the major features, but remains a work in progress with more studies to be added. User feedback is welcome, including suggestions for features and additional studies, provided they meet the inclusion criteria (see methodology on the About page).
Magnitude
Globally, some 470 000 people are victims of homicide every year. Hundreds of millions more men, women, and children suffer non-fatal forms of interpersonal violence, including child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and elder abuse, with many suffering multiple forms. Such violence contributes to lifelong ill-health – particularly for women and children – and early death.
Consequences
Violence often blights the lives of individuals for decades. Beyond death, physical injury and disability, violence can lead to stress that impairs the development of the nervous and immune systems. Consequently, people exposed to violence are at increased risk of a wide range of immediate and life-long behavioural, physical and mental health problems, including being a victim and/or perpetrator of further violence. Violence can also undermine the social and economic development of whole communities and societies.
Violence is preventable
Violence is not an inherent part of the human condition. It can be predicted and prevented. In recent decades, data-driven and evidence-based approaches have produced knowledge and strategies that can prevent violence. These include interventions at individual, close relationship, community and societal levels.
Learn about the prevalence of different types of violence
Homicide
Homicide is the killing of a person by another with intent to cause death or serious injury, by any means. It excludes death due to legal intervention and operations of war.
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Child maltreatment
Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect of children under 18 years of age in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
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Youth violence
Youth violence refers to violence that occurs among individuals aged 10–29 years who are unrelated and who may or may not know each other.
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Elder abuse
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person (aged 60 years and older).
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Sexual violence
Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.
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Intimate partner violence
Intimate partner violence refers to behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.
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Violence against children
Violence against children includes all forms of violence against people under 18 years old, whether perpetrated by parents or other caregivers, peers, or strangers. It thus includes child maltreatment and youth violence. Affecting up to 1 in 2 children every year, violence can have a devastating impact on the developing child and lead to serious life-long health and social problems. Yet much of it is preventable through strategies that address its causes and risk factors.
Violence against women
Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether in public or in private life. While no society is immune, its prevalence varies according to factors such as region and educational status. It is rooted in and reinforces socially entrenched gender inequality. But activism and science have begun to generate a greater understanding of this type of violence and more effective strategies to prevent it.
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted at a United Nations summit in September 2015. They are a universal set of 17 goals and 169 targets that countries can use to frame their development policies until 2030. Three SDG targets address violence directly: Target 5.2 end violence against women and girls; 16.1 reduce all forms of violence everywhere; and 16.2 end violence against children. Other targets such as those calling for poverty alleviation, inequality reduction, social protection, education, and early childhood development provide a strong formula for efforts to address some of the main causes of violence.
© WHO 2017