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Child Protection

10 principles of good treatment of children and adolescents with disabilities

Children and adolescents with disabilities can be vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. The frequent ‘institutionalization’ of children with disabilities, denying them the right to grow up in a family environment, can further impact their ability to grow to their full potential and can increase their vulnerability. 

Furthermore, children living in conflict affected areas or children involved in the worst forms of child labour (armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation, other hazardous work) may suffer from long-term physical, sensory, intellectual or psychosocial consequences. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) affirms that all children are entitled to protection from all forms of violence and this is reinforced by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which introduces specific measures in recognition of the fact that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly states that disability should never justify deprivation of liberty (art. 14). It recognizes the right of children with disabilities to live in the community, backed up with the necessary support and services to make that possible.

UNICEF and our partners in child protection address disability in the following ways:

  • Strengthening child protection systems, and identifying and addressing social norms which cause discrimination - Ensure child protection systems, and those working in these, are capable of preventing, detecting and responding to the specific needs of children with disabilities in the case of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect, including those children whose disability prevents them from reporting. In addition work may be needed to reduce stigmatization and discrimination of children with disabilities. 
  • Incorporating attention to disability in efforts to increase birth registration: Children with disabilities are disproportionately affected by non-registration at birth, which could have serious adverse implications for them in later years while accessing rights and entitlements. Country offices should work to improve the accessibility of civil registration systems to all children. 
  • Promoting the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children: - Country offices should advocate for a range of service and care options being developed for all children, including those with disabilities, that can prevent family separation in the first place, and if such separation is necessary, that can offer care that best meets the individual needs of the child.

Photo Caption: Haiti 2010, Madeline Mergis helps her 12-year-old nephew, Monel, adjust his wounded leg as he sits in a makeshift wheelchair, at a field hospital set up after the earthquake, in Port-au-Prince.



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