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Key findings
  • A slim majority (54%) of Angolans say it is “never justified” for parents to use physical force to discipline their children, although more than four in 10 (44%) don’t object to the practice.
  • More than half (54%) of citizens say child abuse, mistreatment, and neglect occur “somewhat frequently” (32%) or “very frequently” (22%) in their community.
  • About half (49%) of Angolans say resources are generally available in their community to help abused and neglected children.
  • Overall, almost two-thirds (64%) of Angolans think the government is doing a poor job of protecting and promoting the well-being of vulnerable children.

In 2007, the government of Angola adopted “11 Commitments to Children,” a country-level framework for the values expressed in the United Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child (Conselho Nacional da Crianca, 2011).

These commitments, which guide government action on child welfare, establish a legal basis for the protection of children’s rights to education, health, and freedom from neglect, abuse, physical and psychological violence, discrimination, child labour, sexual exploitation, and other threats to well-being.

But progress in ensuring these rights is slow. According to the World Bank (2021), half of Angolan children below age 5 are anaemic, while more than one-third are stunted and nearly one-fifth are underweight. As the country battles its most severe drought in decades, Angola’s children face extremely high exposure to the effects of climate change (UNICEF, 2023; Phillips, 2021).

The 2015-16 Multiple Indicator and Health Survey revealed that almost one-quarter (23%) of Angolan children aged 5-17 engaged in child labour, including 12% who had worked in dangerous conditions (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, 2017). Drought forces many children to exit the education system to herd cattle, dig wells, and collect water; more than 2 million school-age children do not attend school (U.S. Department of Labor, 2021).

According to the National Children’s Institute, more than 4,000 children below age 14 suffered sexual abuse during the 12-month period between June 2020 and June 2021 – a number that does not include the many cases of sexual violence that are never reported (Human Rights Watch, 2022).

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ attitudes and perceptions related to child welfare.

While a majority of Angolans reject the use of physical force to discipline children, most say this is a frequent phenomenon in their communities. Many also describe child abuse, neglect, and out-of-school children as common. Only half say abused or neglected children can find help in the community, and even fewer report that support is available for children with disability or mental-health problems. Most citizens believe the government is doing a poor job of protecting and promoting the well-being of vulnerable children.

Edmundo da Costa Francisco

Edmundo da Costa Francisco is a psychologist and lecturer at the Instituto Superior Politécnico Sol Nascente, Huambo, Angola

Carlos Pacatolo

Carlos Pacatolo is the national investigator for Angola.