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Sexual violence affects boys and girls. However interventions, public attention and donor investments fail to aptly address the experiences of boys. Family for Every Child examined this critical issue of sexual violence affecting boys through its global scoping study, Caring for Boys Affected by Sexual Violence. This study explores both sexual abuse experienced by boys, including sexual exploitation, as well as harmful sexual behaviour of boys; referred to collectively as sexual violence.

The scoping study indicates that socio-cultural norms related to childhood, gender, masculinity and sexuality perpetuate sexual violence affecting boys, increase the vulnerability of boys to sexual violence, and contribute to under reporting.

This study suggests that a multi-layered prevention and response strategy is needed to reduce vulnerabilities and risk factors, identify boys who are at greater risk, such as those without adult care, and address those risk factors early on, as well as to intervene when sexual violence occurs. This requires further exploration through research and well evaluated pilot interventions. This study highlights the need for donors, policy-makers, researchers, programmers and practitioners to consider how stereotypes around masculinity have affected resource allocation, programming priorities and targeting when it comes to strategies to prevent and respond to sexual violence.

Caring for Boys Affected by Sexual Violence is in initial scoping study by Family for Every Child. The second stage of this project involves action research with children and families to gain in-depth understanding of how social norms around gender and masculinity influence sexual abuse experienced by boys and harmful sexual behaviour of boys, and what interventions are needed. This will inform the development of services and tools for boys that address their specific needs.

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