For the Child Abuse Programme, learning is not an isolated function or an end in itself. For us, learning is one of the strategies through which we can support improvements in programming and policy-making in the field of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Ideally, learning combines evidence from practice and academic research and is enriched by the connection and interplay of both. In our view, combining the rigour of academic thinking with the wisdom and experience of  practitioners, and recognising expertise from both the North and the South, are key for credible, relevant and accessible learning.

Building and finding evidence of what interventions are most effective and useful in different contexts is central to learning. The evidence gives practitioners the basis for scaling up interventions or undertaking advocacy to influence policies and practice more widely.
By supporting learning, we hope to contribute to the development of evidence that supports our partners in their quest to implement effective programmes.  Learning will help us better target our investments in the sector and we hope that it also informs and strengthens the child protection sector as a whole.  
For Oak Foundation, this commitment to learning is reflected in three distinct strands of work:
  1. Framing and investing in learning through grants on priority issues identified with partners. These make up Oak Foundation’s Learning Agenda.
  2. Encouraging learning in other related priority areas that have emerged from over 10 years of grant-making.
  3. Encouraging better monitoring and evaluation of all of the projects we support, to contribute to the pool of practice-generated learning on sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.    


What we are learning

1. The Bamboo Project on Child Resilience

Following consultations with partners and experts in the field, we recognised the need to understand more about practice and approaches that claimed to integrate ideas about resilience. While a great deal has been written on the subject of resilience, much of this work failed to take explicit account of the realities and experience of children and families living in the most difficult environments, including those in which the experience or risks of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation were especially high. Our effort to address some of these gaps in knowledge is the Bamboo initiative. More >>

2. Learning from grant-making

The Child Abuse Programme has invested funding over recent years in generating learning about promising practice and potential solutions that are at the heart of the Programme. In 2008 Oak Foundation hired a Programme Officer to support learning and to help the sector improve the evidence base for successful programmes.

The series of five papers focus on what we are learning about combating the sexual exploitation of children and engaging with men and boys as allies in combating violence against children. They are a reflection on grant-making over the past 5 years and an attempt to share with our partners what we as a team are learning through our work. We hope they are a useful contribution to the sector.

The papers were written by Jane Warburton, an Oak Fellow (until March 2014) based in the International Centre for Research on Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking, University of Bedfordshire, UK, with inputs from the whole Child Abuse Programme team.

Download the learning papers below:
Programme partnerships on: engaging men and boys in the elimination of the sexual abuse of children.

Promundo US, Changing the Norms: A Global Initiative to Promote Men’s Involvement in Caregiving and in Non-Violent Relationships with Children

Promundo’s work engages women, girls, boys, and men; strives to transform gender norms and power relations within key institutions where these norms are constructed; and is based on building local and international partnerships. At their core, they are an applied research institute that works to test, evaluate and advocate for policies and programs that transform masculinities.

We are supporting Promundo through a core support grant. Promundo’s mission is to promote caring, non-violent and equitable masculinities and gender relations in Brazil and internationally, by:


  • Conducting research to build the knowledge base on masculinities and gender equality;
  • Developing, evaluating and scaling up gender transformative interventions and policies;
  • Carrying out national and international advocacy to achieve gender equality and social justice.
Hidden Violence: Preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of adolescent boys – Case Studies and Directions for Action (2012)



Programme partnerships on: violenceprevention and protection in a comprehensive and coordinated way.

Educating professionals to stop child abuse

The statistics surrounding child sexual abuse are quite alarming. WHO estimates that in some countries, as many as 36 per cent of girls and 29 per cent of boys are sexually abused.  In most cases the abuse is committed by adults the child knows.[i] In order to change these statistics and prevent child sexual abuse from occurring, adults – who have an obligation to protect children – must be educated to identify and report cases of abuse.

Stop it Now![ii] prevents child sexual abuse by mobilising adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children from abuse. This small US-based organisation is gradually integrating a global dimension through its extensive range of online English-language resources, tools and programme strategies. These help parents, professionals and community leaders create safe, nurturing environments for children. Stop it Now! developed a prevention guide which it disseminated on its website and 14 webinars to train professionals on a variety of topics relating to child sexual abuse.

Between 2011 and 2013 the Stop it Now! online resource centre has received some 1.5 million visitors – including more than 213,000 from countries outside of the US. Stop it Now! expects to see a significant increase in the number of professionals using this specialised information.

Oak has supported Stop it Now! since 2008.

Preventing violence against children in East Africa

Recently, Oak Foundation has had the opportunity to support two unique yet connected projects that focus on child rights.

The International Institute for Child Rights and Development has developed Child Rights Education for Professionals (CRED-PRO), an international initiative to improve the wellbeing, development and health of children throughout the world. CRED-PRO is active in 4 regions and 11 countries and it is growing. It aims to foster respect for children, their needs, their rights and their best interests among and through professionals. This includes nurses, paediatricians, social workers and those working with pre-school children. By virtue of their work, these professionals influence the children’s lives, their families and communities.

The programme has already helped create networks of professionals in South and Central America, the USA and Canada, Eastern Europe and Tanzania. Modules are adaptable, to be able to reflect the diverse cultural and social realities of different countries and regions.

East Africa

Through CRED-PRO, the Open University (OU) in the United Kingdom is supporting the integration of a child-rights approach in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. It trains health professionals that work with children, families and communities to increase their capacities and readiness to protect children from violence.

By combining local expertise in the development and adaptation of the training material with the experience of the OU in delivering accessible, distance learning programmes, it is hoped that the role of health professionals in preventing and responding to violence against children in East Africa will be strengthened.

Interagency Learning Initiative on Community-Based Child Protection Mechanisms and Child Protection Systems

Families and communities are at the front line of efforts to protect children from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation; in many settings they may be the only resources that are accessible and able to respond to serious child protection threats. And yet, to date, there is very little evidence about how they function, how they connect with and inform the emerging discourse on national child protection systems, and how they might be strengthened or supported in addressing threats to the well-being of their children and young people.

We are supporting an interagency, multi-site action research project to provide some of the answers to these questions, which we hope will inform future developments in the sector. More >>

Destination Unknown Campaign: Protecting Children on the Move

Oak Foundation supports the Destination Unknown international campaign to protect children on the move led by Terre des Hommes International Federation and its member organisations. Partners will join forces to develop protection mechanisms for children on the move, raise awareness and advocate the campaign messages for policy change. “Children on the move” addresses those children who have left home and are either on the way to a new destination, or have already reached it: trafficked, unaccompanied, in street situation, kidnapped, forced to migrate, refugees, asylum seekers, nomadic…across the world millions of children are on the move.
Destination Unknown Campaign: Protecting Children on the Move (Spot)



Additional Resources



Engaging men and boys in the elimination of the sexual abuse of children.




Prevention and protection efforts are provided in a comprehensive and coordinated way.