A child that grows up protected from violence and abuse is more likely to grow up physically and mentally healthy, confident and self-respecting and less likely to abuse or exploit others. By contrast, when children are left unprotected and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse their childhood and their rights are fundamentally undermined. Ensuring a protective environment is the responsibility of governments, international organizations, civil societies, families and individuals.
The key elements of the protective environment include:
- Capacity of families and communities: All those who interact with children—parents, teachers, religious leaders alike – should observe protective child-rearing practices and have the knowledge, skills, motivation and support to recognize and respond to exploitation and abuse.
- Government commitment and capacity: Governments should provide budgetary support for child protection, adopt appropriate social welfare policies to protect children’s rights, and ratify international conventions concerning children’s rights and protection with few or no reservations.
- Legislation and enforcement: Governments should implement laws to protect children from abuse, exploitation and violence; vigorously and consistently prosecute perpetrators of crimes against children, and should not criminalize child victims.
- Attitudes and customs: Governments should challenge attitudes, prejudices and beliefs which facilitate or lead to abuses, commit to preserving the dignity of children, and engage the public to accept their responsibility to protect children.
- Open discussion including civil society and media: Societies should openly confront exploitation, abuse and violence through the media and civil society groups.
- Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation: Societies should ensure that children know their rights and are given the necessary information and skills they need to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation.
- Essential services: Services should be available for victims of abuse to deal with their needs in confidence and with dignity, and basic social services should be available without discrimination to all children.
- Monitoring, reporting and oversight: There should be monitoring, transparent reporting and oversight of abuses and exploitation.