The Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS): Using VACS data to drive programmes and policies

Glob Public Health. 2022 Nov;17(11):2807-2825. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2021.2010116. Epub 2021 Dec 14.


The Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) are nationally representative surveys of males and females aged 13-24 years, designed to measure the burden of sexual, physical, and emotional violence experienced in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. As of 2020, 22 countries implemented or are implementing a VACS. Since the first article using VACS data was published in 2009, several peer-reviewed articles have been published on the VACS. However, no publications have analysed the breadth of the work and how the data are represented in the literature. We conducted a review of the peer-reviewed research which used VACS data or mentioned the VACS. Between 2009 and July 2020, 50 peer-reviewed articles with data from 11 countries were published. Two studies (2/50; 4.0%) focused on boys, while 14 studies (14/50; 28.0%) focused on violence against girls. Fourteen articles focused on sexual violence (14/50; 28.0%), compared to three on emotional violence (3/50; 6.0%), and two on physical violence (2/50; 4.0%). Lastly, 52% of the articles (26 of the 50) were first authored by someone at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We identified the need to support local authors, and additional research on violence against boys, and physical and emotional violence.

Keywords: Violence Against Children Surveys; global health; violence prevention.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Policy
  • Sex Offenses*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Violence* / prevention & control