Family For Every Child calls on education organisations across the globe to sign up
Schools and other education providers are being invited to sign up to an international charter which aims to change the way societies tackle sexual violence affecting young males.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 boys worldwide experiences sexual abuse. And whilst girls continue to be the gender principally affected by sexual violence (estimated at 1 in 4), the abuse suffered by boys can fall under the radar (Caring For Boys Affected By Sexual Violence, 2018).
On becoming a signatory to United For Boys, organisations will be able to access tailored support and guidance from the charter’s founding charity Family For Every Child – a member-led network of local children’s organisations from around the world.
Charter signatories will also be encouraged to publicly demonstrate their commitment to tackling sexual violence affecting boys by displaying the campaign badge.
Family For Every Child’sscoping study Caring for Boys Affected by Sexual Violence (2018), found that boys are less likely to report abuse, are less likely to be believed when they do, and are more likely to be seen ascomplicit in the act or even as the perpetrator.
Support services – where they exist – are targeted at and organised around the needs of girls, with counsellors and support workersoften ill-equipped to engage with boys.
The study produced a list of recommendations that are based on evidence and can be tailored to local contexts. These include the need for more gender-inclusive recovery services, effective sex education, revised laws, and changes to the cultural and social norms around gender and sexual violence.
Amanda Griffith, CEO, Family For Every Child, said: “All around the world, millions of children – girls and boys alike – are affected by sexual abuse, exploitation and harmful behaviours. All children deserve a childhood free of these threats.
“Socio-cultural norms related to childhood, gender, masculinity and sexuality perpetuate sexual violence affecting boys, increase the vulnerability of boys to sexual violence, and contribute to under reporting.
“Our United For Boys charter combines public awareness-raising with systemic change. It calls on everybody – women and girls, men and boys, professionals and the public, young and old – to be a part of building a brighter future for boys, and for everyone.
“We believe that the best way to achieve these changes is by engaging professionals, from teachers and school support staff to GPs and social workers, who can work in new ways to improve the system for children worldwide”.
The United For Boys charter calls for six evidence-based principles to better support boys. These are:
- Raising awareness of sexual violence affecting boys amongst professionals who work with children, leading to the development of organisational strategies for building staff knowledge and skills so they feel informed and equipped to provide support.
- Ensuring that all services that can support boys are designed and managed in ways that make them feel included, accepted and welcome.
- Providing easily accessible, appropriate and high quality information to help educate children and families on sex, sexual health, sexuality and internet safety; and ensuring that this includes information relating to sexual violence affecting boys.
- Advocating for changes in the law that could ensure that boys affected by sexual violence are better protected and supported, and that victims are not criminalised.
- Changing the conversation around our culturally-embedded and harmful social norms around gender.
- Challenging damaging narratives around sexual violence affecting boys, including in the media; and offering support on how to better frame the issue.
Family for Every Child is a global alliance of local civil society organisations working together to improve the lives of vulnerable children around the world. It has 36 member organisations in 35 countries.