Child Protection

Every child has the right to be protected from violence and exploitation.

Boys and girls playing outside, China.
UNICEF/China/2015/Xia Yong

Challenges

Violence, abuse and neglect are global issues that affect children’s development, including their physical and mental health, with lasting effects and significant costs to the economy — China is no exception.

  • There is a lack of representative data to determine the scale of violence against children, which is a critical barrier to making an efficient investment and prioritizing a comprehensive child protection response.  
  • Traditional norms dictate that what happens in the home is a family matter, and the public mostly tolerates harsh disciplining of children. These social norms and traditional views towards violence hamper people’s recognition of abusive practices and therefore hinder interventions by government authorities to prevent violence from occurring, to respond to violence when it happens, and to punish the perpetrators. 
  • Although child maltreatment is prohibited under the law, the laws and policies lack practical enforcement measures, leading to varying interpretations and practices, with most children who experience violence not receiving the appropriate response they need and are entitled to.  
  • Current public spending on prevention and response to violence against children remains very low. There are limited systematic, regular and sustainable social services and protective measures to address child protection risks and issues. The number of qualified professionals to deliver such services is also limited. 
  • New technologies like the internet, although valuable, can put children’s safety and well-being at risk. In recent years, online child sexual abuse, cyberbullying, privacy invasion, and increasing harmful online content, have become top concerns for policymakers, parents, the internet industry, and society at large. 

Solutions

UNICEF works with the Government of China to keep children safe from harm.

We support the development of an integrated child protection system to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children.  This includes strengthening child protection laws and policies, collecting better data, supporting child protection pilots, scaling up good practices, enabling child victims and professionals to report child abuse and neglect, cultivating a culture of quality in welfare and protection services for children, leading campaigns to end violence against children, and empowering children to be a part of the solutions. 

More specifically we are: 

  • advocating for laws to be consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and for these laws to be implemented, as well as building the capacity of the Government of China to implement relevant policies and programmes.   
  • supporting a first-of-its-kind survey to measure the prevalence of violence against children. 
  • training child protection professionals – e.g., social workers, public prosecutors, and judges – and community-based paraprofessionals to deliver quality services that are meaningful to a child’s protection needs and well-being.       
  • ensuring parents, caregivers and communities have the skills they need to avoid harsh and abusive parenting and provide care that helps children’s mental and physical health and well-being -- i.e., positive parenting. 
  • working with policy makers, regulators, parents, children and the internet industry, to maximize opportunities and minimize risks for children online.  
  • creating child protection mechanisms in communities with different sectors of government to identify children at risk of abuse and neglect and provide them with the support they need through pilots and programmes like Child-Friendly Spaces and Barefoot Social Workers. 

Resources

These resources on child protection represent just a small selection of materials produced by UNICEF and its partners in the last two years. The list is regularly updated to include the latest information.