Primary focus of this country programme is on the strengthening of child protection systems, which will contribute to the realization of children’s right to be free from violence, neglect and abuse, including the right of children to live in a family environment and their right to protection as a key element of justice for children.
Understanding that the risk of violence, abuse and exploitation are critical factors that hinder the development of children and adolescents, the approach must be holistic and must include actors from government, civil society and the private sector.
In both countries, UNICEF is partnering with the government to build and implement culturally appropriate child protection systems, especially in the interior regions; this means supporting the implementation of laws, such as the Sexual Offences Act, and agencies and centres to advocate for and protect children from harm, like Child Advocacy Centres in Guyana, and Meltpunt in Suriname.
Additionally, programmes will be implemented for children and adolescents considered at risk of being in conflict with law. These will benefit juveniles in detention and aimed at preventing recidivism and facilitating reintegration. In essence, these programs will contribute to creating an enabling environment for alternatives to detention, as well as for diversion measures to be applied successfully and reduce the number of minors detained.
The programme will contribute to reducing the high levels of teenage pregnancy. It will further expand health and family life education, with a focus on skills development and sexuality education.
In Guyana, Safety and Justice for Children programme will use evidence from a situation analysis on teenage pregnancy. In Suriname, it will use the experience and evidence from the Adolescent Development Programme.
Children and young people will be involved as “champions of change” in crafting and delivering messages to their peers through social media and other means to contribute to preventive efforts. It will also engage other major stakeholders, such as youth associations and fait-based organizations.
The evidence-based promotion will aim to leverage resources to implement alternative modalities to the institutionalization of children, such as foster care, and transform existing institutions so that they can provide services to prevent family separation.
A mapping exercise of the situation of the existing formal care system will help to identify how to better develop a strong alternative care system that will prevent family separation and promote national adoption systems.
Particular attention will be given to children with disabilities and from indigenous and Maroon groups. The programme will promote multisectoral child protection referral mechanisms and violence prevention systems, plus professional development to enhance the capacity of social workers to manage child protection cases. Other rights holders, including parents, will be provided with initiatives aimed at developing positive parenting skills throughout the country. To improve children’s access to justice, technical assistance will be provided to increase the use of child-friendly and gender-sensitive proceedings by the police, courts and prosecutors’ offices. UNICEF will support the alignment of juvenile justice procedures with international standards.