Violence Against Children Surveys

Together for Girls

What are the VACS?

The Violence Against Children Survey (VACS), led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the Together for Girls partnership, are nationally representative household surveys of males and females ages 13 to 24.

The VACS are designed to measure the prevalence, past 12-month incidence and circumstances surrounding sexual, physical and emotional violence in childhood, adolescence (before age 18) and young adulthood (before age 24). The surveys also identify risk factors, protective factors and consequences of violence. VACS results are published in national reports, used in the development of national action plans, and guide effective, evidence-based programs and policies.


Who Implements the VACS?

At the country level, the implementation of the VACS is led by the national government, with CDC providing technical support. This approach embeds the VACS in national structures in order to enable ownership, build capacity and lay the groundwork for a comprehensive response once the data become available.

Depending on the country, Together for Girls partners (in addition to CDC) may play a critical role. UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are invaluable in supporting the multi-sector task force to coordinate the surveys and response efforts, ensuring wide participation and facilitating the transition to action when the surveys are completed. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Government of Canada and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) make critical financial and technical contributions to implementing the VACS.

Other partners, such as UN Women, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide important technical contributions to the VACS and to the ensuing response at the country level. They also facilitate wide dissemination of the data at the regional and global level.


What Information Does the VACS Provide?

The VACS provide strong, reliable evidence on sexual, physical and emotional violence among children, adolescents and young adults. The questionnaire includes questions on the following survey topics:

  • Background (e.g. demographics, socioeconomic status, education)
  • Gender attitudes related to violence
  • Perception of safety
  • Witnessing violence
  • Violence victimization
  • Violence perpetration
  • Health risk behaviors—including HIV risk
  • Health outcomes—including physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health outcomes (e.g. unintended pregnancy)
  • Service seeking and utilization after experiencing violence


VACS Country Reports and Factsheets