Empowering and engaging directly with children is viewed by experts to be essential to ending violence against children. Child participation is itself a protective factor from violence, by treating children as agents who need to be involved in decisions, who can break the silence on abuse, and who can be agents of change within programs.

The JLI Ending Violence Against Children Hub held three in-depth dialogues on child participation and faith.

View the Seen But not Heard event summaries below:

  1. Multi-Religious Perspectives on Child Participation summary here
  2. Practical examples of child participation summary here
  3. A Multi-religious Intergenerational Dialogue on Child Participation summary here

Faith actors and communities can work to prevent violence against children more effectively by also holding campaigns and workshops directly with children. In creating safe spaces, surrounding children with trusted adults, and using child-friendly messaging, faith actors and communities can build child resilience, educate children on violence, ensure that children know their rights, and empower children to be active partners in preventing violence against children.

This page provides examples and resources that highlight how faith actors and communities can engage and empower children in meaningful ways to end violence and to ensure that spaces are age-appropriate, child friendly, and do not reinforce hierarchies of value. 

When we engage with faith leaders to address violence against children, we need to educate them to work with the children. They really have to understand the meaning of the participation of children, not just participation in an event for the sake of it (IJ, Child Protection expert serving Christian and Hindu communities, Nepal)

Practice Examples:

Example 1: Claves Christian Organization

  • Organization: Claves Christian Organization
  • Timeline: Forty training courses have been held in 19 countries in Latin America over the last five years. Each model takes four months to implement.
  • The Project: The Claves project model works to train educators who work directly with children in institutions, schools, churches, etc. The training is based upon their child-centered methodology that “we strengthen ourselves through play to face adverse situations”. Educators are trained to build child resilience, empowering children and adolescents to identify potential abuse or risks and to find ways of resolving these together with a trustworthy adult.
  • Results: The program has reached over 19,500 children and 1,300 educators in 19 countries. The results of the workshops have been shown to reduce
    the vulnerability of children to multiple forms of violence including sexual abuse and human trafficking.  Moreover, the workshops encouraged and taught children how to appropriately exercise their rights.
  • Read the full case study below or in JLI’s Scoping Study (Palm, S. and Colombo, F. 2019, pg. 15), and find more information on child participation in JLI’s brief on the roles of faith communities in ending VAC.

Example 2: Learning to Live Together

  • Organization: Arigatou International and Global Network of Religions for Children
  • Timeline: March 2014 to January 2015.
  • Project: The Learning to Live Together Program worked to help children in El Salvador improve their decision making and nurture their spirituality. The project held capacity-building training for facilitators. After being trained, the facilitators implemented the lessons and activities that they learned to engage children within the community, with the aim of improving their physical, mental, spiritual, and moral development.
  • Results: The program used three methods as instruments for the evaluation of impact: focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and significant change stories. Despite the fact that violence within the community caused some participants to drop out of school, the project saw positive results in all three areas of measurement. The project provided a safe space for children to understand their own perspective and practice empathy for others. Further, facilitators noted improved interactions between boys and girls and better demonstrations of teamwork amongst the children. Lastly, the project provided a space that allowed children to connect to their beliefs and place importance on their own spiritual growth.
  • Read the full case study below or in JLI’s Scoping Study (Palm, S. and Colombo, F. 2019, pg. 7) and find the full Learning to Live Together Initiative here.

Example 3: Empowering Children as Peace-builders

  • Organization: World Vision Central African Republic
  • Timeline: From 2013- present.
  • Project: The Empowering Children as Peace-builders (ECaP) project model manages facilities where children and adolescents are supported to become “become agents of peace and change for themselves, their family and their communities”  in the Central African Republic. (World Vision, 2017). In the facilities, children and youth are taught to make good decisions and protect themselves from violence. Moreover, the children learn how to create safe and productive relationships with community leaders, women’s groups, religious leaders, and the local government. The project provided children with psychological support and community leaders were trained in matters of child protection.
  • Results: The project, by providing safe facilities and educating children, caregivers, religious leaders, and local government, reported a reduction in negative coping mechanisms and a return to normal social behavior among child participants. Further, it was noted that the project resulted in children feeling an increased sense of trust in their community.
  • Read the full case study in JLI’s Scoping Study (Palm, S. and Colombo, F. 2019, pg. 9) or view the program here

Related Resources:

Chab Dai Coalition Good Touch Bad Touch Toolkit
Claves https://www.claves.org.uy/
Children on the Move Consortium Learning Brief: spiritual support to children on the move and their caregivers as a source of healing and resilience
Faith in Action for Children on the Move: The role of faith in strengthening the continuum of protection for children on the move
Food for the Hungry Child-Focused Community Transformation Model
Islamic Relief Pakistan Protection of Children At Risk (POCAR)
UNFPA & UNICEF Voices of Change- Global Program to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage
FPCC Faith and Positive Change for Children Case Study: Panama
World Council of Churches, UNICEF, & World Vision Collaboration with Children and Adolescents in the Implementation of Churches to Commitments to Children
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Community Engagement in SGBV Prevention and Response
World Council of Churches Principles for Child-Friendly Churches- Explained to 11 to 18-year-old Children and Adolescents 
World Vision Guidelines for Empowering Children and Youth as Peacebuilders

Child Participation Reference Guide 


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