Thursday, 31 Oct 2019

United For Boys: How we’ve made change happen

Amanda Griffith, CEO, Family for Every Child

A few months ago, driven by the work of our members, we launched our first ever campaign – United For Boys. 

Sexual violence affecting boys is an issue that is often hidden and under-discussed. As a result, the problem is little understood – and solutions are lacking. 

Changing the conversation is the first step in changing the situation. That’s why I’m proud that Family has spoken out about this topic. Our Alliance is committed to bringing under-represented issues out of the darkness and into the public consciousness, and we are not afraid to have the difficult conversations that need to be had. 

As always, all this work has been made possible due to the ongoing generosity and support of people who have chosen to donate to us as their charity of choice. For that, we continue to be deeply grateful; and we hope that campaigns such as this show just how much impact their support is making. 

Here are a few of the successes our collective work on sexual violence has led to in just a few short months:

Raising awareness

Our United For Boys campaign launched in July this year.

Since then over 200 organisations from around the world have signed up.

Together, they have an impact on the lives of tens of thousands of children’s lives, and, as part of our global network, they can access support from our team on how to tackle the hidden issue of sexual violence affecting boys. 

Sharing new research

To change a situation, it’s essential to understand exactly what’s happening. That’s why we’ve supported our members Butterflies (India), CPTCSA (Philippines), First Step (Cambodia) and Voice of Children (Nepal) to develop brand-new research that uncovers how boys are affected by sexual violence in their respective countries. The evidence they have uncovered is helping them to advocate for change where they work, including their governments, police, education providers and other not-for-profit organisations. 

Changing the conversation

We’ve been breaking the silence on sexual abuse of boys in the press, with opinion pieces in a range of publications targeting professionals who work with children.

These involve magazines for educators, housing associations, nurseries and more. You can read these, such as blogs from our UK member The Mulberry Bush – leaders in therapeutic care – in the ‘Stories and Articles’ section of our United for Boys web hub.

Challenging harmful social norms

Every culture and context is different, and attitudes to sexual violence vary around the world. Sometimes these social norms – such as restrictive ideas about what it means to be a man – can have an adverse effect on how boys deal with sexual violence. We’re now supporting members in Guyana, India, Paraguay and the Philippines to develop campaigns to tackle these potentially damaging attitudes. 

Changing the legal system

Many countries around the world have no legal framework to protect boys from sexual abuse and exploitation, and in some countries, male rape victims are criminalised. We’re working hard to change that. In the Philippines, for example, CPTCSA is making headway on getting boys explicitly mentioned in their country’s rape law; which will be an important step forward in achieving gender parity on the issue.


What next?

As we move on to launching our second campaign, Childhood on the Move, I’m thrilled that we can look back on these positive outcomes from United For Boys. But we are not ending this work now – far from it. We now have a wider network of committed contacts around the world who are joining us to make change happen through support and guidance provided by Family. It’s a strong example of how we, as an Alliance, can use the power of collaboration to make change happen at scale – and we’re just getting started.

It’s still possible to join our United For Boys network. Just sign up at familyforeverychild.org/unitedforboys. Together, we can bring this hidden issue out of the darkness, and create a brighter future.


Everything we do at Family is made possible by the generosity of our supporters around the world. If you would like to support us with a donation and help us make an even bigger difference to children and families everywhere, please visit familyforeverychild.org/donate