What is Child Protection?

What is Child Protection? Child protection is the safeguarding of children from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for the protection of children in and out of the home. One of the ways to ensure this is by giving them quality education, the fourth of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to other child protection systems.

Child protection systems are a set of usually government-run services designed to protect children and young people who are underage and to encourage family stability. UNICEF defines a ‘child protection system’ as:
the set of laws, policies, regulations and services needed across all social sectors – especially social welfare, education, health, security and justice – to support prevention and response to protection-related risks. These systems are part of social protection, and extend beyond it. At the level of prevention, their aim includes supporting and strengthening families to reduce social exclusion, and to lower the risk of separation, violence and exploitation. Responsibilities are often spread across government agencies, with services delivered by local authorities, non-State providers, and community groups, making coordination between sectors and levels, including routine referral systems etc.., a necessary component of effective child protection systems.

— United Nations Economic and Social Council (2008), UNICEF Child Protection Strategy, E/ICEF/2008/5/Rev.1, par. 12-13.

A 2014 European Commission survey on child protection systems listed the following categories of children needing help:[5]

  • Child victims of sexual abuse/exploitation
  • Child victims of neglect or abuse
  • Child victims of trafficking
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children in a situation of migration
  • Unaccompanied children in a situation of migration
  • Children without parental care/in alternative care
  • Children in police custody or detention
  • Street children
  • Children of parents in prison or custody
  • Children in judicial proceedings
  • Children in or at risk of poverty
  • Missing children (e.g. runaways, abducted children, unaccompanied children going missing)
  • Children affected by custody disputes, including parental child abduction
  • Children left behind (by parents who move to another EU country for work)
  • Children belonging to minority ethnic groups, e.g. Roma
  • Child victims of female genital mutilation or forced marriage
  • Children who are not in compulsory education or training or working children below the legal age for work
  • Child victims of bullying or cyberbullying

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