Nearly 60 percent of today’s children live in conflict-ridden countries; one in six live in close proximity to a conflict zone. Children make up over half of the 65 million people currently displaced by war. Moreover, fifty million girls and boys are affected by disasters. Whether caused by armed conflict or a sudden onset natural disaster, an emergency is a time when children face significant protection issues. Children are at risk of injury and disability, neglect, physical and sexual violence, psychosocial distress and mental disorders. They may be separated from their families, recruited into armed forces and exploited. Refugee, internally-displaced and stateless children can be especially vulnerable.
Emergency situations can continue long after the initial crisis has passed, so Child Protection is delivered in a wide variety of humanitarian settings and by a variety of actors. International and national organisations, community groups and schools, family supports and the children themselves can all serve to enhance the level of protection children experience. Sustainable solutions build on and strengthen these existing protective factors so that children are protected in the short and long terms.
Experience repeatedly shows that when children are protected in an effective and holistic manner, other humanitarian efforts – including education -- are more successful. In turn, simultaneously strengthening child protection and education systems is proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to build resilience and promote sustainable development. An intersectoral approach is therefore necessary to address the multifaceted challenges and risks faced by children in humanitarian settings.
The right child protection intervention at the right time can save a child's life.
Abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children can have long-lasting impact on children’s neurobiological development, learning and their capacity to self-regulate. The longer their exposure to toxic stress, the greater the risk may be.
Ensuring access to quality education for all children and youth, especially those traditionally excluded, also helps to provide young people children with viable opportunities for their future and sense of self-efficacy as opposed to illegal or dangerous alternatives or even partaking directly in the conflict themselves. These initiatives are most effective when supported at the population level, and especially by the child protection sector
Collaboration across the child protection and education in emergencies can also minimize the risk of schools being used as an easy place to target children—either for killing and maiming or for recruitment (e.g. Sri Lanka, DRC, Somalia, etc.).
After a multi-stage, collaborative process, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, formerly known as the Global Child Protection Working Group, has defined its strategic priorities for 2018−2020. These priorities—integrated programming, evidence-based programming, and localization—are driving the Alliance’s work and, most importantly, the work plans of its four working groups and six task forces. The Alliance's nearly 100 member organisations are working together to ensure the fulfilment of the strategic plan and work plan.
The mission of The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (the Alliance) is to support the efforts of humanitarian actors to achieve high-quality and effective child protection interventions in humanitarian contexts, both in refugee and non-refugee settings. As a global network of operational agencies, academic institutions, policymakers, donors and practitioners, the Alliance facilitates inter-agency technical collaboration on child protection in all humanitarian contexts. The Alliance’s work falls into five categories:
The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPMS) seeks to transform the quality and rigour of our work to protect children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. The aim of the CPMS is to:
In 2010, the members of the global Child Protection Working Group agreed on the need for child protection standards in humanitarian settings. The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPMS) were published in September 2012. Over 400 individuals from 30 agencies in over 40 countries, including child protection practitioners, humanitarian actors from other sectors, academics and policy makers, were involved in their development. The CPMS are widely known and used in humanitarian contexts. As of the end of 2017, they have been used in over 50 countries by an estimated 72,000 practitioners, translated into 16 languages and adapted for the local context in 18 countries. After 18 months of use, the CPMS are now being revised. Building on evidence, practice and experience gathered since the first edition in 2012, the 18-month revision process offers many opportunities for users across the world to participate.
The objective of this project was to conduct an issue mapping identifying critical intersections between child protection and education. Both the EiE and CP fields claim education is protective because it: 1) provides physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection; 2) gives children a sense of hope and stability; 3) provides children access to other critical, life-saving services; 4) strengthens social cohesion and supports peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts; 5) supports gender equality and provides women and girls, who are often marginalized, the skills to empower themselves; and, 6) enhances children’s wellbeing in the long term. Despite the positive impacts of education in emergencies, most literature suggests that education is not by definition protective and that it can pose potential risks. Education can be used to fuel intolerance and prejudice and exacerbate existing injustice and discrimination. Educational infrastructure can also be used for military purposes, making schools prone to attack. In addition, schools can be places where sexual and labor exploitation of children takes place, and routes to school can subject children to violence and injury. Rigorous prevention and protection measures are therefore necessary to create a safe learning environment for all students to continue quality education in times of emergencies.
To read more about the similarities and differences between how the Child Protection and EiE fields view the role of education in emergencies download the Narrative Report. You can also view a matrix of resources used for protection in EiE here.
H.E. Mr Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia and President of the UNICEF Executive Board, presented recommendations for supporting child protection in humanitarian contexts. They included: education; a multi-stakeholder approach to violence prevention, response and funding; family tracing and reunification services for children who are separated from their families and caregivers; psycho-social support to children affected by emergencies; advocating for the eradication of child recruitment and use in armed forces or groups and the release and reintegration of all children currently associated with armed forces or armed groups. Finally, broad strengthening of and collaboration between all components of child protection systems is essential.
The joint annual meeting of the INEE & Child Protection in Humanitarian Action in 2013 was the result of a prioritisation of inter-cluster collaboration. It was an opportunity to formalise and strengthen the links between the education and child protection sectors. The three-day meeting gathered expertise from national, regional and global levels with the intent of ensuring more efficient responses to reach the most vulnerable and affected children in emergency contexts.
The Protective Role of Education: Mapping Critical Intersections across the Child Protection and Education Sector - Narrative Report, INEE (forthcoming)