refers a collection of government-supervised programs created to protect young people and encourage stability for at-risk families. The idea of “child protection” is concerned first with the vulnerability of children and the need to protect them from harmful influences; second, it attempts to offer opportunities that allow children to mature as economically-secure and productive adults. The services associated with child protection range from food assistance, home visits, counseling, special education or child-care services, and vocational rehabilitation for care-givers, to foster care for children, adoption, and incarceration of an abusive parent or care-giver. The primary concern is for the welfare of the child, ensuring he or she has access to the care and nurturing necessary to be prepared for a stable and healthy future.
Awareness of the vulnerability of children and the hazards that face them in many parts of the world has concerned global philanthropy since the early 20th century. As a product of the “International Save the Children” convention in Geneva, Switzerland in 1923, a series of human rights declarations—referred to collectively as “The Rights of a Child”—were made public in the hopes of inspiring greater protection for children. These rights focus on offering children access to sources of physical, spiritual, and intellectual growth, while preventing forces that could cripple these areas of development.
According to the UN, the greatest concern facing child protection is poverty. While situations like child poverty are difficult to prevent in many parts of the world, child protection attempts to mediate the negative influences of location, background, and economics as well as address concerns such as: neglect, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Problems like child labor in Bangladesh, child incarceration in China and Iran, child soldiers in the Congo, child prostitutes in Thailand and Afghanistan are extreme examples of what child protection services seek to prevent. Even in the inner-city areas of the first world, children are faced with gang violence, lack of parental support, exposure to drugs, reduced access to educational opportunities, and protection from exploitation. In order to be effective, child protection has to be responsible to the local conditions in which it is implemented and cultural sensitive to the needs of a wide variety of communities.