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How prevention of violence in childhood builds healthier economies and smarter children in the Asia and Pacific region
  1. Deborah Fry1,
  2. Stephen Blight2
  1. 1Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand
  1. Correspondence to Stephen Blight; sblight{at}


Investments in preventing violence against children in the Asia and Pacific region will bring important social and economic returns that contribute to building the region's ‘cognitive capital’. An analysis of burden of violence research in the region is presented to identify the impacts of violence and to demonstrate these returns. Violence is an everyday experience in the lives of many children in the Asia–Pacific, and the toxic stress associated with such routine forms of violence may permanently impact the architecture and chemistry of the developing brain. This can undermine learning and affect behavioural, social and emotional functioning as children grow into adulthood. Given the hundreds of millions of children affected by violence in the region each year, its cumulative impact translates into the annual loss of hundreds of billions of dollars—or about 2% of gross domestic product of the Asia and Pacific region. Violence prevention can affect positively on health and productivity, reduce expenditure on crisis response, improve children's developmental and educational outcomes, and prevent crime. The sustainable development goals and the emerging global consensus on effective prevention strategies constitute a powerful new agenda to end violence against children, and there are critical steps that governments can take to accelerate action.

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors DF and SB researched, wrote and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was funded from the resources of Unicef.

  • Disclaimer This paper is based on a longer thematic report presented on November 7th and 8th, 2016 at the UNICEF High Level Meeting on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in Asia and the Pacific. The opinions expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of UNICEF or any other agency.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.