Massive Open Online Course on Ending Violence Against Children Launches

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By Columbia Mailman School of Public Health

A new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) presents evidence-based strategies and approaches to preventing and responding to violence against children. Geared for practitioners, policymakers, anyone who cares deeply about this issue, the MOOC shares knowledge about forms of violence against children; how societal, community, and family-level factors affect violence; and evidence-based and strategies to end violence against children.

The course titled “INSPIRE: Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children” was developed by experts at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health the Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Network at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO)End Violence Against Children: The Global Partnership; the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)Together for Girls, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)the World Bank, and multiple national and international civil society organizations.

The INSPIRE MOOC is taught by four faculty and staff at the Columbia Mailman CPC Learning Network: Nicolas Makharashvili, INSPIRE MOOC Content Lead and Learning Facilitator; Cassie Landers, assistant professor of population and family health; Mark Canavera, co-director of the CPC Learning Network; and Gunnar Colleen, MOOC Research Assistant.

Despite its high prevalence, violence against children is often hidden, unseen or under-reported. Its hidden nature is well documented—for example, a meta-analysis of global data finds self-reported child sexual abuse 30 times higher and physical abuse 75 times higher than official reports would suggest. An analysis of nationally representative survey data on the prevalence of violence against children in 96 countries estimates that 1 billion children globally —over half of all children aged 2–17 years—have experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence in the past year.

The immediate and long-term public health consequences and economic costs of violence against children undermine investments in education, health, and child well-being, and erode the productive capacity of future generations. Exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and damage other parts of the nervous system, as well as the endocrine, circulatory, musculoskeletal, reproductive, respiratory and immune systems, with lifelong consequences. Strong evidence shows that violence in childhood increases the risks of injury; HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; mental health problems; delayed cognitive development; poor school performance and dropout; early pregnancy; reproductive health problems; and communicable and non-communicable diseases.

The new course is one of a number of MOOCs developed and taught by Columbia Mailman faculty. Others include a MOOC on the global menstrual movementProtecting Children in Humanitarian Settings and Fighting HIV with Antiretroviral Therapy: Implementing the Treat-All Approach.

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