Child Protection

IRC in Colombia
© J. Arredondo

Whether caused by armed conflict or a sudden onset natural disaster, an emergency is a time when children face significant protection issues. Children are at risk of injury and disability, neglect, physical and sexual violence, psychosocial distress and mental disorders. They may be separated from their families, recruited into armed forces and exploited. Refugee, internally-displaced and stateless children can be especially vulnerable.

Emergency situations can continue long after the initial crisis has passed, so child protection is delivered in a wide variety of humanitarian settings and by a variety of actors. International and national organisations, community groups and schools, family supports and the children themselves can all serve to enhance the level of protection children experience. Sustainable solutions build on and strengthen these existing protective factors so that children are protected in the short and long terms.     

Experience repeatedly shows that when children are protected in an effective and holistic manner, other humanitarian efforts – including education -- are more successful. In turn, simultaneously strengthening child protection and education systems is proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to build resilience and promote sustainable development. An intersectoral approach is therefore necessary to address the multifaceted challenges and risks faced by children in humanitarian settings.

The right child protection intervention at the right time can save a child's life.

Key Messages

Abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children can have long-lasting impact on children’s neurobiological development, learning and their capacity to self-regulate.  The longer their exposure to toxic stress, the greater the risk may be.

  1. It is not sufficient to address risk and protective factors alone. Policies and programmes must also consider the interplay between macro and micro forces on children’s protection and how these forces impact their enabling environment.
     
  2. Safe access to quality education has been shown to be a preventive factor for family separation, recruitment into armed forces and groups and child labour. Teachers, school social workers/counsellors and other staff can function as an early detection mechanism for children who are starting to descend into a cycle of vulnerability. Schools and other educational environments can also provide children with a much needed social interaction that can help them deal with the consequences of distress and trauma.
     
  3. By engaging with children, families, communities and societies at large, the child protection workforce can strengthen protective systems at multiple levels to ensure efforts at the school-level are reinforced throughout. They can also support children’s access, especially excluded children’s access, to education through child protection programming such as case management, child friendly spaces, family strengthening, community-based child protection mechanisms and other initiatives.
     
  4. Despite the positive impacts, education can also pose potential protection risks. Classrooms can be sites that fuel intolerance and exacerbate existing injustice and discrimination (e.g. bullying, abuse by teachers, corporal punishment), harming children’s emotional and educational well-being.  Educational infrastructure can also be adapted for military purposes, making schools prone to attack. Rigorous prevention and protection measures are therefore necessary to create a safe learning environment in emergencies.
     
  5. During a response, education in emergencies and child protection can support each other and coordinate their programming to best protect children’s physical, psychosocial and cognitive wellbeing. 
     
  6. Ensuring access to quality, adaptive education in a safe, protected environment provides children with a sense of normalcy and security
  7. Ensuring access to quality education for all children and youth, especially those traditionally excluded, also helps to provide young people children with viable opportunities for their future and sense of self-efficacy as opposed to illegal or dangerous alternatives or even partaking directly in the conflict themselves. These initiatives are most effective when supported at the population level, and especially by the child protection sector

  8. Collaboration across the child protection and education in emergencies can also minimize the risk of schools being used as an easy place to target children—either for killing and maiming or for recruitment (e.g. Sri Lanka, DRC, Somalia, etc.).

Manual/Handbook/Guide

Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (2019)

نشره
Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

The 2019 Child Protection Minimum Standards handbook is a practical tool for humanitarian actors to join and lead child protection in humanitarian settings.

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Arabic
French
Spanish
Brochure/Pamphlet

INEE Thematic Issue Brief: Child Protection

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Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

Emergencies present a multitude of significant threats to children’s protection, including disruption or weakening of the support systems that enable children’s healthy development and well-being. To enable educational access and quality in emergency and early recovery contexts, addressing issues of child protection is essential.

English
Manual/Handbook/Guide

Guidelines for Child Friendly Spaces in Emergencies

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Global Education Cluster
Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

The purpose of these principles is to give practical guidance to the field teams that establish CFSs in different types of emergencies and contexts.

English
Toolkit

Keeping Children Safe: A Toolkit for Child Protection

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The Keeping Children Safe Coalition

The Keeping Children Safe Coalition (KCS) toolkit is a complete package for people working in child protection across the world. The standards and exercises provide a sound basis for the development of effective measures to prevent and respond to violence: from awareness raising strategies to safeguarding measures.

English
Portuguese
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Arabic
Report

A Matter of Life and Death: Child protection programming's essential role in ensuring child wellbeing and survival during and after emergencies

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Child Protection Working Group

The CPWG commissioned this research in order to address the consistent deprioritization of child protection in humanitarian action, reported year on year by child protection coordination groups and evidenced by statistics on funding and the findings of other research efforts in the humanitarian sector.

English
Manual/Handbook/Guide

A Practical Guide for Developing Child Friendly Spaces

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United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

This guide is designed to assist UNICEF staff and partners, in establishing and operating Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in an emergency.

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Website

Child Protection Global Education Cluster

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Child Protection Global Education Cluster

The Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR) is specifically focused on enhancing child protection coordination and response in humanitarian contexts (as defined as Humanitarian Coordinator and Early Warning contexts).

English
Manual/Handbook/Guide

Guidance Note for Reviewing Child Protection in Emergencies Proposals

نشره
Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

These notes have been developed by the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (the Alliance) in collaboration with the Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR) as a practical aid for assessing standalone Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) proposals and multi-sector proposals with CPiE components.

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Manual/Handbook/Guide

Guidance Note: Protection of Children during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

نشره
Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

This Guidance Note aims to provide humanitarian child protection practitioners, particularly child protection advisors
and program managers, with guidance on how to engage in responses to infectious disease outbreaks to ensure children’s protection needs are taken into account in preparedness for, and during responses to, the outbreaks.

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French
Policy Document

Paris Commitments

Adopted in 2007, the Paris Commitments on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups are a voluntary promise by States to work together to halt child recruitment, support the release of children from armed groups and help reintegrate these children into civilian life.

English
Manual/Handbook/Guide

Starting Up Child Centered Spaces in Emergencies: A Field Manual

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Christian Children's Fund

This approach engages communities to create safe spaces for children and youth to play, socialize, learn, and express themselves in a caring, supportive and normalizing environment.

English
Website

The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

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The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

As a global network of operational agencies, academic institutions, policymakers, donors and practitioners, the Alliance facilitates inter-agency technical collaboration on child protection in all humanitarian contexts. It sets standards and produces technical guidance for use by the various stakeholders. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) currently co-leads the Alliance with Save the Children. 

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Manual/Handbook/Guide

The Psychosocial Care and Protection of Children in Emergencies: Teacher Training Manual

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United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

In order to strengthen its efforts to promote psychosocial support within educational programming in emergencies, UNICEF has developed these teacher-training materials to promote greater understanding of the impact of and effective responses to the psychosocial impact of emergencies on learners.

English
Report

Too Little, Too Late, Child Protection Fund in Emergencies

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Global Protection Cluster

This report presents the findings of a study on child protection financing in emergencies, commissioned by the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) of the Global Protection Cluster.

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Manual/Handbook/Guide

Where Child Protection and Education in Emergency Cross

نشره
Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

This paper provides a mapping of the critical intersections between child protection (CP) and education in emergencies (EiE).

English