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.).

5 Dezembro 2022 Manual/Handbook/Guide Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

Supporting Integrated Child Protection and Education Programming in Humanitarian Action

This guidance note by INEE and the Alliance aims to promote integration and collaboration across the two humanitarian sectors of education and child protection. It orients stakeholders in both sectors to principles, frameworks, opportunities, and resources for program integration in order to ensure efficient, targeted, and effective interventions that result in improved outcomes for children and young people.

31 Janeiro 2021 Report Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

Collaboration Across Child Protection and Education in Emergencies

In this paper, the The Alliance and INEE set out the evidence supporting collaboration and integration between the sectors, providing a rationale for cross-sector work grounded in child well-being and holistic development. The paper includes a summary of challenges and opportunities, and draws out clear recommendations for systematic and planned collaboration

1 Setembro 2020 Framework Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR), Global Education Cluster

Education in Emergencies - Child Protection Collaboration Framework

The CP-EiE Collaboration framework supports Education and CP coordination teams’ predictable and coherent collaboration throughout the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC). At each step of the HPC, it provides steps to strengthen CP-EiE collaboration, promising collaboration practices from country coordination groups, and tools and resources to support collaboration.

15 Março 2021 Report Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

No Education, No Protection: What school closures under COVID-19 mean for children and young people in crisis-affected contexts

This report highlights the primarily negative effects resulting from the combination of sudden school closures and restricted access to and availability of services, social networks, and other protective facilities for children and young people living in crisis-affected contexts.

1 Janeiro 2011 Manual/Handbook/Guide
Global Education Cluster, Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
Global Protection Cluster

Guidelines for Child Friendly Spaces in Emergencies

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

28 Outubro 2014 Ferramentas

Keeping Children Safe: A Toolkit for Child Protection

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.

1 Janeiro 2015 Report

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

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.

1 Janeiro 2010 Brief Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

INEE Thematic Issue Brief: Child Protection

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.

1 Janeiro 2017 Manual/Handbook/Guide Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

Guidance Note for Reviewing Child Protection in Emergencies Proposals

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.