Violence, abuse and exploitation of children are unfortunately not new. Forms of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children have come to be recognised as crimes against children. The devastating consequences that violence has on children’s development and on societies as a whole are slowly coming to light.


In the Child Abuse Programme, we envision a world in which all children are protected from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. We support initiatives that: eliminate the sexual exploitation of children; engage men and boys in combating the sexual abuse of children; and promote the prevention of violence against children.


We put the child at the centre of all our work. The following principles, which are interrelated and mutually reinforcing, are statements that apply to and guide our work:

Child rights based — All interventions should reflect the fact that children have rights and that states and civil society, including families, have obligations to respect and facilitate their realisation. These rights are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Children’s agency and competency to participate actively in realising these rights is recognised but varies with age and stage of development.

Respecting and building on strengths — We recognise that children, families and communities have strengths and capacities  that should inform and orient interventions.  An understanding of their social context and positive traditional practices may provide effective, sustainable options and opportunities for protecting children.

Child participation — We are committed to the meaningful involvement of children in all decisions that affect their lives. This includes promoting greater respect for children and their inclusion in decision-making within their families and communities. Children’s capacities to participate and contribute need to be strengthened, and environments that encourage and support children in applying those capacities, created. The nature of children’s participation will vary, reflecting their evolving capacity.

Non-discrimination — All the work we support must be implemented in a way that does not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion or other status of the child or his/her parents or guardians. Any affirmative action targeting a specific group should be designed to promote equality and inclusion.

Best interests of the child — We recognise that in all decisions impacting children, their best interests should be a primary consideration. This applies at two levels. First, decisions and actions affecting an individual child should reflect his or her unique circumstances, second, all actions and decisions — whether legislative, administrative.

Do no harm — Our work and the work we support may have unintended and unexpected results. These can be positive or negative. Monitoring and evaluation should be designed to identify both, and support the revision or reorientation of interventions if indicated.


For the Child Abuse Programme, learning is not an isolated function or an end in itself. Learning is one of the strategies through which we can support improvements in programming and policy-making in the field of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Ideally, learning combines evidence from practice and academic research and is enriched by the connection and interplay of both. Combining the rigour of academic thinking with the wisdom and experience of practitioners, and recognising expertise from both the North and the South, are key for credible, relevant and accessible learning.

Learning action partnerships

Promoting cooperation and partnerships is clearly not an approach that is limited to Oak Foundation, but we believe that this approach is particularly helpful and relevant to work aimed at preventing child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation and other forms of violence. Preventing such violence, particularly primary prevention, is complex, challenging and difficult. Given what we know about the scale of children’s experience of violence, and the intractability of the attitudes and norms that contribute to sexual violence against children in many contexts, it is clear that no one sector or intervention can be effective on its own.

For more information please refer to the document Learning Action Partnerships.



Risk and resilience – converging themes from global research

Oak’s Child Abuse Programme held a learning event
in Tanzania in May 2014. The event focused on an understanding of risk and resilience in children and communities. It also examined implications for practice and policy. The main purpose of the event was to review three global research projects covering more than 20 countries and to determine converging themes emerging from the research. You can find the

presentations from our meeting on our Resources page. If you would like to find out about our learnings from this meeting, please refer to our Learning Event Report.



Eastern african regional meeting of partners
- putting the protection of children and adolescents from all forms of violence at the heart of communities

The regional meeting of partners of Oak Foundation’s Child Abuse Programme reflected
on a number of new initiatives being undertaken to promote the prevention of violence to children, including sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.
Four major themes emerged:


  1. Understanding the theme
  2. Evidence based programming
  3. Improving practice
  4. Issues for further reflection


The bamboo project on child resilience

Following consultations with partners and experts
in the field, we recognised the need to understand more about practice and approaches that claimed to integrate ideas about resilience. While a great deal has been written on the subject of resilience, much of this work failed to take explicit account of the realities and experience of children and families living in the most difficult environments, including those in which the experience or risks of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation were especially high. Our effort to address some of these gaps in knowledge is the Bamboo initiative.


Learning from grant-making

The Child Abuse Programme has invested funding over recent years in generating learning about promising practice and potential solutions that are at the heart of the Programme. In 2008 Oak Foundation hired a Programme Officer to support learning and to help the sector improve the evidence base for successful programmes.


The series of five papers focus on what we are learning about combating the sexual exploitation of children and engaging with men and boys as allies in combating violence against children. They are a reflection on grant-making over the past 5 years and an attempt to share with our partners what we as a team are learning through our work. We hope they are a useful contribution to the sector.


The papers were written by Jane Warburton, an Oak Fellow (until March 2014) based in the International Centre for Research on Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking, University of Bedfordshire, UK, with inputs from the whole Child Abuse Programme team.




Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.


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