Child protection systems

For the best results, a joined-up approach is needed

Child protection systems programme cover
UNICEF Myanmar/2017/Kyaw Kyaw Winn

The challenge

Child vulnerability to rights violations unfortunately exists in many settings, including in homes, schools, communities and at work. 

Addressing all the underlying and interconnecting factors that threaten the safety and wellbeing of children's rights requires a joined-up approach.

UNICEF advocates for building comprehensive child protection systems as the best way to address the full spectrum of complex risk factors children experience. That means taking action and creating the necessary links across key sectors like health, social welfare, education, and the justice system. Strong laws, standards, guidelines and procedures backed by sufficient funding and human resources are key.

Knowledge and understanding of the core issues is also vital. UNICEF works to generate robust evidence to gain informed understanding of social norms that drives violence, exploitation and abuse, in order to promote  positive behaviour change  and bring an end to harmful practices. 

Solid data and facts on the situation of children in relation to child protection is also essential in order to advocate for improved policies and systems.

UNICEF Myanmar/2016/Daniele Romeo

The solution

Building a comprehensive child protection system by nature obliges Governments to extend a wider range of services to all communities and groups, reducing disparities and achieving long-term impacts for the country in the process. 

While Governments provide leadership, this approach also requires partnerships with a wide range of actors including civil society, faith-based organizations, community leaders, social workers, teachers, medical professionals and law enforcement officers. 

Along the way, child protection grows so that it becomes an automatic part of all initiatives in areas like health, education, and the justice system.

Social work

Strengthening social work as a profession is critical to building these systems. In Myanmar, UNICEF and partners are supporting the Government to operationalize parts of the National Social Protection Strategy passed in 2014, by strengthening and expand the child protection case management system carried out by trained social workers. 

In 2018, the case management system was expanded to 49 townships, with more than 100 government and NGO social work case managers trained and deployed.

UNICEF works with partners to develop evidence that can mobilize the Government to address child protection issues and develop the necessary systems to combat violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse from wherever it comes.

UNICEF Myanmar/2017/Kyaw Kyaw Winn

UNICEF’s support has resulted in the development of a child protection case management curriculum, training of case managers, and their deployment to townships nationwide.

We work with partners to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and justice systems to provide child-friendly and gender-appropriate approaches for children in contact with the law. Our work to strengthen public awareness to help prevent child sexual abuse and violence is helping to increase community demand for services. 

UNICEF champions alternatives to children living in institutions such as orphanages, in order to strengthen and preserve families, which has shown to be the best approach for children. We also engage with government ministries to address orphanage tourism, since a growing evidence base highlights the negative impacts, including abuse and exploitation in orphanages.  

Our work supporting protections for children in conflict and emergencies aims to ensure that affected children can access the same rights as all others. Under the UN Security Council Resolution 1612, UNICEF supports gathering information on the recruitment and use of children and other grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict, engages parties to conflict to end and prevent grave violations, and helps affected children to reintegrate into society.