Child protection is the process of protecting individual children identified as either suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect. It involves measures and structures designed to prevent and respond to abuse and neglect. Child abuse involves acts of commission and omission, which results in harm to the child. The four types of abuse are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.
Child protection refers to the protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for the protection of children in and out of the home.
Why is child protection important?
All children have a right to protection against abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence and many organisations have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. A successful approach requires multi-agency collaboration and a recognition of child wellbeing at the heart of the organisation.
Human rights those, activities conditions, and freedoms that all children are entitled to enjoy, and protected by virtue of their humanity. They include the following;
- Rights to be born
- Rights to live
- Rights of movement
- Rights to education
- Rights to be protected, etc
Also human rights include civil, political, economic and social and cultural. Human rights are inherent, inalienable, interdependent and indivisible, meaning they cannot be for granted or taken away, the enjoyment of one right affects the enjoyment of others and they must all be respected.
However, only government are in a position to put in place the laws and policies necessary for protection human/child rights and to regulate private and public practices that impact individual enjoyment of those rights. Therefore we think of national governments (“states”) as the guarantors or violators of human and child rights.
Child’d right or Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989 defines a child as any human person who has not reached the age of eighteen years. Children’s rights includes their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state-paid education, health care, and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child’s civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child’s race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity, or other characteristics. Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes “abuse” is a matter of debate. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing.
“A child is any human being below the age of eighteen years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” There are no definitions of other terms used to describe young people such as “adolescents“, “teenagers,” or “youth” in international law, but the children’s rights movement is considered distinct from the youth rights movement. The field of children’s rights spans the fields of law, politics, religion, and morality.
Children have two types of human rights under international human rights law. They have the same fundamental general human rights as adults, although some human rights, such as the right to marry, are dormant until they are of age, Secondly, they have special human rights that are necessary to protect them during their minority. General rights operative in childhood include the right to security of the person, to freedom from inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment, and the right to special protection during childhood. Particular human rights of children include, among other rights, the right to life, the right to a name, the right to express his views in matters concerning the child, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to health care, the right to protection from economic and sexual exploitation, and the right to education.
Children’s rights are defined in numerous ways, including a wide spectrum of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Rights tend to be of two general types: those advocating for children as autonomous persons under the law and those placing a claim on society for protection from harms perpetrated on children because of their dependency. These have been labeled as the right of empowerment and as the right to protection.
United Nations educational guides for children classify the rights outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the “3 Ps”: Provision, Protection, and Participation. They may be elaborated as follows:
- Provision: Children have the right to an adequate standard of living, health care, education and services, and to play and recreation. These include a balanced diet, a warm bed to sleep in, and access to schooling.
- Protection: Children have the right to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. This includes the right to safe places for children to play; constructive child rearing behavior, and acknowledgment of the evolving capacities of children.
- Participation: Children have the right to participate in communities and have programs and services for themselves. This includes children’s involvement in libraries and community programs, youth voice activities, and involving children as decision-makers.
In a similar fashion, the Child Rights Information Network, or CRIN for short, categorizes rights into two groups:
- Economic, social and cultural rights, related to the conditions necessary to meet basic human needs such as food, shelter, education, health care, and gainful employment. Included are rights to education, adequate housing, food, water, the highest attainable standard of health, the right to work and rights at work, as well as the cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples.
- Environmental, cultural and developmental rights, which are sometimes called “third generation rights,” and including the right to live in safe and healthy environments and that groups of people have the right to cultural, political, and economic development.
Amnesty International openly advocates four particular children’s rights, including the end to juvenile incarceration without parole, an end to the recruitment of military use of children, ending the death penalty for people under 21, and raising awareness of human rights in the classroom. Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization, includes child labor, juvenile justice, orphans and abandoned children, refugees, street children and corporal punishment.
Scholarly study generally focuses children’s rights by identifying individual rights. The following rights “allow children to grow up healthy and free”
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of thought
- Freedom from fear
- Freedom of choice and the right to make decisions
- Ownership over one’s body
In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if State Assemblies also enact it. To date, only 16 of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act. Intense advocacy continues for the other 20 States to pass it.
This explains that this landmark legislative achievement has not yet translated into improved legal protection throughout the Federation. Nigeria has been unable to deal with several issues hindering the protection rights of children such as children living on the streets, children affected by communal conflict, drug abuse, human trafficking and the weaknesses of the juvenile justice system amongst others.
Children conflict with the law for a variety of reasons. Poverty, social inequality, failed educational system, family problems, peer pressure, social and religious conflicts in which children are used as the foot soldiers are some of the factors that account for the number of children in conflict with the law. Unfortunately these child offenders are often treated like adults and mixed with adults in prisons. Many are convicted and jailed without making contact with a social worker or getting the opportunity to be heard.
The most recent report to the African Union on the rights and welfare of the Nigerian child showed that about 6,000 children are in prison and detention centres across the country. Girls make up less than 10 per cent and they mainly come into contact with the law as a result of criminal acts committed against them such as rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Increased participation of children in issues affecting their lives can have positive and far reaching effects on their health and socio-economic conditions. When children participate in decision making, they tend to be more creative, positive and energetic, offering ideas devoid of prejudices and stereotypes.
The Federal Government inaugurated the Children’s Parliament in 2003 to enhance children’s participation. Since then, 26 States have inaugurated children’s parliaments. The main challenge is to make these Parliaments truly representative of the broad categories of Nigerian children, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
There is also an increased participation of children in the media and their opinion at the public domain is now sought and publicized to give them some measure of participation and responsibility.
COMPARING THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK OF CHILD PROTECTION IN DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Comparing the institutional framework of child protection in developed and developing countries can be likened to a policy where the rights of the child are protected as a human. Both the developed and developing countries sees the importance of the child and gives special attention to each one of them without any form of discrimination and gender stands. Thus, in each country, there is an existing law which acts as the institutional framework in protecting the right of the child.
CONSTRACTING THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK OF CHILD PROTECTION IN DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
There exists varying difference between the institutional framework in both the developed and developing countries. The level of adherence are more wider in both countries as the western countries of the United states, Britain, France etc place special value on the child and sees it as a government entity that must be protected at all levels, whereas in the developing countries they are seen as parental tools that can aid the development of their respective family and household.
According to the Child Right Act of 2013, says that of no reason should any child even right from conception be humiliated and be neglected of his rights as a citizen. This various frameworks were institutionalized policies aimed at protecting the rights of the child at any place on planet though it degree of implementations varies from country to country.
Delap, Lucy (30 July 2015). “Child welfare, child protection and sexual abuse, 1918-1990”. History & Policy. History & Policy. Retrieved 13 July 2016.