Primary and secondary prevention of child protection violations (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1391)

This report examines interventions which have been successes or failures, especially on violence against children


The questions asked in this helpdesk report:

  • Identify literature on how effective the primary and secondary prevention of child protection violations have been in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Specifically, which interventions have been successes or failures (especially on violence against children), and why?

While the knowledge base on the prevention of child protection violations in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) is limited, there are robust, promising findings.

The majority of findings suggest that if the core elements of interventions are preserved, the translation of interventions from high-income countries (HICs) to LMICs can be effective. For instance, parenting training can change cultural references, but not the number of sessions or their essential content.

Key findings:

  • a recent evidence review identifies 7 strategies and associated interventions as having proven or promising effects: implement and enforce laws; strengthen norms and values for positive and gender-equitable relationships for all children; create and sustain safe streets and other environments where children spend time; support parents and primary caregivers, to reduce harsh parenting and create positive parent-child relationships; strengthen the incomes and economic situation of families or women; improve access to good-quality health, social welfare, and criminal justice for all children; and provide children with more effective and gender-equitable education, social-emotional learning, and training in life skills

  • there is limited good-quality evidence on parenting interventions. Emerging findings show that these have been feasible and effective at preventing child protection violations even in low-resource settings.

  • there is evidence of positive effects of child-focused interventions and locations, such as through schooling, (by increasing enrolment and establishing a safe and enabling school environment), and through life skills training for young people to prevent violence among adolescent intimate partners.

  • larger programmes such as social protection have many direct and indirect effects on prevention, mostly positive – particularly when combined with other interventions, such as parent training. However, when social protection has no explicit objective to advance child protection, it leaves protection gaps unaddressed, especially for the most disadvantaged, such as children with disabilities.


Combaz, E. Primary and secondary prevention of child protection violations (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1391). GSDRC, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2016) 45p

Primary and secondary prevention of child protection violations (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1391)

Published 1 September 2016