Home Emergencies: preparadness and reponse Injury prevention Child protection HIV and AIDS Malaria Hygiene Coughs, colds and more serious illnesses Diarrhoea Immunization Nutrition and growth Breastfeeding Child development and early learning Safe motherhood and newborn health Timing births
Facts for Life

Child Protection

Why it is important to share and act on this information


All children have the right to protection. They have the right to survive, to be safe, to belong, to be heard, to receive adequate care and to grow up in a protective environment.

A family is the first line of protection for children. Parents or other caregivers are responsible for building a protective and loving home environment. Schools and communities are responsible for building a safe and child-friendly environment outside the child's home. In the family, school and community, children should be fully protected so they can survive, grow, learn and develop to their fullest potential.

Millions of children are not fully protected. Many of them deal with violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation, exclusion and/or discrimination every day. Such violations limit their chances of surviving, growing, developing and pursuing their dreams.

Any child can be vulnerable to violations in many places, including the home. The actual number of children experiencing violations is not easy to determine. This type of data is hard to collect and is not updated frequently. However, it is estimated that:

  • about 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual violence and exploitation during 2002
  • 150 million children aged 5–14 are engaged in child labour
  • millions of children, mostly girls, work as domestic labourers (maids) in private homes
  • approximately 1.2 million children are trafficked annually (most recent annual estimate from 2000)
  • the births of around 51 million children born in 2007 were not registered
  • between 22 per cent and 84 per cent of children 2–14 years old experienced physical punishment in the home in 37 countries surveyed between 2005 and 2007.

Governments, communities, local authorities and non-governmental organizations, including faith-based and community-based organizations, can help ensure that children grow up in a family environment. They can make sure that schools and communities protect all children and prevent child maltreatment. They can protect girls and boys from violations such as abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking and work in hazardous conditions, as well as harmful practices, including child marriage.

Girls and boys should be encouraged and supported to speak up for children's rights and to take an active role in their own protection against abuse, violence, exploitation and discrimination.