Child Protection

Keeping children safe from violence, neglect and exploitation

Four girls smiling.
UNICEF Indonesia

The challenge

One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime, while more than a third of boys experience physical violence.

Violence against children is pervasive in homes, schools and communities in Indonesia. Bullying and shaming are common in schools, with 18 per cent of girls and 24 per cent of boys affected. Boys are especially at risk of physical attacks in school.

Teachers often use physically and emotionally violent forms of punishment to discipline children. They also lack knowledge and skills to recognize and report violence and refer students to services to address any harm they have experienced.

Adolescent girls are more likely than boys to be subjected to harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). One out of every nine girls are married before the age of 18, and girls from the poorest households are five times more likely to be married as children than their wealthiest counterparts. The rate of FGM is high, at 52 per cent.

Girls in classroom.
UNICEF Indonesia
Girls in classroom.

Child marriage, in addition to being a child rights violations, perpetuates the intergenerational cycle of poverty by forcing girls out of school, impairing their long-term education, ability to earn a living and contribute to the development of their communities.

On the legal front, childhood violence has yet to be prohibited in all settings (rape in marriage is still permitted), and the justice for children system does not yet prioritize protection for all children in contact with the law.

Less than 0.1 per cent of the total government budget is dedicated to protecting children from violence. Complex public administration procedures and the lack of a mandated authority for child protection make the effective delivery of services for vulnerable children challenging. In addition, around 17 per cent of children under 18 do not have a birth certificate, compromising their ability to access key services.

The solution

UNICEF is helping to build a comprehensive national child protection system to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

A happy boy.
UNICEF Indonesia

This is being done by generating reliable evidence to inform advocacy; reforming legislation and updating policies in accordance with international human rights standards; developing child protection professionals; and screening and tracking budgets for enhanced public financial management for children.

Persistent attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence against girls and boys are being tackled through social and behaviour change initiatives. In particular, UNICEF is supporting a national campaign to end child marriage.

UNICEF works with children and adolescents as agents of change, and helps to raise visibility of child rights violations and prompt open public debate on key issues, such as migrant and refugee children, child labour, child marriage and birth registration.