Beyond Risk Factors: Structural Drivers of Violence Affecting Children

M. Catherine Maternowska, Deborah Fry, Alina Potts, Tabitha Casey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

As global data on violence affecting children (VAC) has emerged, the scope of violence has become increasingly clear as well as alarming: over 1 billion children between the ages of 2 and 17 experience violence every year (Hillis et al., Pediatrics 137(3), e20154079, 2016). Although the numbers may be clear, understanding why and how this violence manifests in children’s lives is a critical and still developing field of practice. The Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children in Italy, Peru, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe set out in 2014 to understand what drives violence and what can be done to prevent it (Maternowska et al., Vulnerable Child Youth Stud 13(Supp 1), 2018; Maternowska et al. The multi-country study on the drivers of violence affecting children. A cross-country snapshot of findings. Florence: UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. Retrieved from, 2016). Through a systematic literature review, secondary analysis and an intervention mapping, national teams analysed individual, family and community-level risk and protective factors as well as the macro forces or “drivers” of violence—the often invisible forms of harm that create the structural and institutional context in which violence affecting children occurs. Our approach, working in close collaboration with national teams, demonstrates how violence manifests in children’s lives. The study considers a nation’s geohistoric place as essential to understanding how structure-based inequalities work in potent combination with the risk and protective factors to determine a child’s safety. We present a model, called the child-centred integrated framework, for placing our understanding of VAC squarely within the child’s social ecology. In this chapter we use examples of two drivers of violence common across all study countries—poverty and migration—to illustrate the power of structural factors on children’s everyday lives, with a focus on our findings from Peru. Our interpretations of violence are useful in that they lend practitioners of peace psychology a kindred view of the world but focusing on violence affecting children and their families from a population-based perspective, while also proposing ways to build more effective violence prevention policy and programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren and Peace: From Research to Action
EditorsNikola Balvin, Daniel J. Christie
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-22176-8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2019


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