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Johns Hopkins Researchers Receive Grant to Investigate Political Priority for Addressing Sexual Violence Against Children


Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health received a $770,000 grant from the Oak Foundation to investigate the generation of national political priority for addressing sexual violence against children. Through case studies of six countries across the globe, researchers will identify factors that shape priority for addressing sexual violence, as well as examine which factors contribute to successful implementation of policies to address sexual violence. The project will be led by Jeremy Shiffman, PhD, MA, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School and at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and Yusra Shawar, PhD, MPH, assistant scientist in the Department of International Health.

Globally, sexual violence against children is an issue of immense proportion that increases the risk for adverse health and other consequences for survivors. Researchers on this project will examine how political factors shape the use of evidence and data, the willingness of governments to address the issue, and the effectiveness of governments in implementing policy to address sexual violence against children.

The researchers will conduct six case studies on national efforts to prioritize and carry out policy on sexual violence against children. A central concern of the research will be the role of survivor networks in pressing governments to act on the issue. The countries studied will vary in socioeconomic development levels, and in the extent to which governments have made headway in prioritizing and addressing sexual violence against children.

“We will draw on political science and sociological research, and expect these case studies to produce knowledge that proponents can use to sharpen strategies for generating priority to address sexual violence against children,” says Shiffman.

“This is a follow-on grant to a previous research program Jeremy and I led, funded by the Oak Foundation,” says Shawar.  “In the first program, we investigated global priority to address all forms of violence against children, as well as national priority for addressing sexual violence against children in the United Kingdom, a country that has performed relatively well in addressing the issue.”

The latest project launched in September 2022, and is expected to continue through 2025. Key to the project is working with local collaborators—in each country, Johns Hopkins researchers will partner with a local investigator to analyze the factors that have shaped the level of national prioritization and implementation for preventing and addressing sexual violence in the country. In addition to Shiffman and Shawar, other Department of International Health Bloomberg School researchers on the project are Adam Koon, PhD, MPH, assistant scientist; Miranda Bain, MA ‘20, doctoral student; and Malvikha Manoj, MSPH ‘20, research associate.

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. Through their grant-making, Oak Foundation supports others to make the world a safer, fairer, and more sustainable place to live.