UNICEF uses the term ‘child protection’ to refer to preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children – including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage.
UNICEF’s child protection programmes also target children who are uniquely vulnerable to these abuses, such as when living without parental care, in conflict with the law and in armed conflict.
Violations of the child’s right to protection take place in every country and are massive, under-recognized and under-reported barriers to child survival and development, in addition to being human rights violations.
Children subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect are at risk of death, poor physical and mental health, HIV/AIDS infection, educational problems, displacement, homelessness, vagrancy and poor parenting skills later in life.
Child protection is an issue in every country and a high priority for UNICEF. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international treaties, all children have the right to be protected from harm.
UNICEF activities are guided by the existing international normative framework for the rights of the child, as well as decisions and policies agreed in United Nations intergovernmental bodies.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child - Protection Rights
Article 4 (Protection of Rights)
Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. When countries ratify the Convention, they agree to review their laws relating to children. This involves assessing their social services, legal, health and educational systems, as well as levels of funding for these services.
Governments are then obliged to take all necessary steps to ensure that the minimum standards set by the Convention in these areas are being met. They must help families protect children’s rights and create an environment where they can grow and reach their potential. In some instances, this may involve changing existing laws or creating new ones.
Girl Power: Tea Garden Adolescent Clubs Grow Female Leaders Janaswari Begum has been working on the plantation for 30 of her 56 years. But when asked if she wants her daughter Sulekha to follow in her footsteps into the fields, she shakes her head.“I want to stand on my own feet,” she says. “I want to earn my own living. I want to teach the younger girls whatever I know.”
Former Child Labourer Says No to Child Marriage Arfa Khatun, was sent out to work as a maid when she was eight-years-old. Her father planned to marry her off when she turned 13 just as he had done with her elder brother and two sisters. But Arfa took a stand almost unheard of in her traditional community – she said no.
Informed adolescents prevent exploitation Bhargavi is a ‘change agent’ counselling adolescent girls in the Balika Sangha (an adolescent girl’s club) in Poolathota Harijanwada, Rayachoty of Kadapa district headquarters, Andhra Pradesh.