This series of brief papers is based on what the Child Abuse Programme of Oak Foundation has and is learning through its funding partnerships, and through reaching out to others in practice, policy development and academia, in respect of the first two of these priority aims. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all relevant work. It is a snapshot of some of the work that is influencing our thinking and planning, that we hope will evolve and enriched through future work.
One of the challenges to expanding learning around the prevention of violence is the difficulty of establishing if and how an intervention has stopped something from happening. This is always difficult; but in an area of work such as sexual violence, with poor data around incidence, and addressing an issue that is so often un- or under-reported, it is especially hard.
However, Oak Foundation's (and others') increased attention and funding that targets prevention of violence against children is clearly justified, and starts from the assumptions that:
- preventing abuse or exploitation from happening in the first place is always the best option;
- the sexual abuse and exploitation of children is not inevitable; and
- effective prevention efforts that both mitigate risks and promote resilience, probably need to be targeted at all levels – individual, family, community, organisational and societal.
This shared emphasis on prevention creates opportunities for the development of new thinking around learning about what works. This includes improving monitoring and evaluation that looks at change over time, across organisations and from diverse entry points. This would contribute to a better understanding of what is effective in preventing violence against children, including sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.