Child protection

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Not to be confused with Child Protective Services.
For Wikipedia's child protection policy, see Wikipedia:Child protection.

Child protection is a set of usually government-run services designed to protect children and young people who are underage and to encourage family stability.

Encountered problems[edit]

Child labour[edit]

Main article: Child labour

Due to economical reasons, especially in poor countries, children are forced to work in order to survive. Child labour often happens in difficult conditions, which are dangerous and impair the education of the future citizens and increase vulnerability to adults. It is hard to know exactly the age and number of children who work. At least 150 million children under 5 years of age worked in 2004, but the figure is underestimated because domestic labour is not counted.[citation needed]

Endangerment and infanticide[edit]

In some countries, children can be imprisoned for common crimes. In some countries, like Iran or China, children can even be sentenced to capital punishment (the United States abandoned the practice in 2005). In contexts where military use of children is made, they also risk being prisoners of war. Other children are forced to prostitution, exploited by adults for illegal traffic in children or endangered by poverty and hunger. Infanticide today continues at a much higher rate in areas of extremely high poverty and overpopulation, such as parts of China and India. Female infants, then and even now, are particularly vulnerable, a factor in sex-selective infanticide.

Child abuse[edit]

Main article: Child abuse

Most children who come to the attention of the child welfare system do so because of any of the following situations, which are often collectively termed child abuse:

Actions typically include foster care, adoption services, services aimed at supporting at-risk families so they can remain intact, and investigation of alleged child abuse.


A 2014 European Commission survey on child protection systems listed the following categories of children needing help:[1]

  • Child victims of sexual abuse/exploitation
  • Child victims of neglect or abuse
  • Child victims of trafficking
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children in a situation of migration
  • Unaccompanied children in a situation of migration
  • Children without parental care/in alternative care
  • Children in police custody or detention
  • Street children
  • Children of parents in prison or custody
  • Children in judicial proceedings
  • Children in or at risk of poverty
  • Missing children (e.g. runaways, abducted children, unaccompanied children going missing)
  • Children affected by custody disputes, including parental child abduction
  • Children left behind (by parents who move to another EU country for work)
  • Children belonging to minority ethnic groups, e.g. Roma
  • Child victims of female genital mutilation or forced marriage
  • Children who are not in compulsory education or training or working children below the legal age for work
  • Child victims of bullying or cyberbullying

International treaties[edit]

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, created in 1919. It takes care also of child labour issues, in particular with conventions 138 and 182.

On 20 November 1959 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Declaration of the Rights of the Child during the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations Programme headquartered in New York City, that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

In 2000, an agreement was reached among UNO[ambiguous] countries about the military use of children.

The effectiveness of these programs is contested and seems limited to some.[vague]


Provincial or state governments' child protection legislation empowers the government department or agency to provide services in the area and to intervene in families where child abuse or other problems are suspected. The agency that manages these services has various names in different provinces and states, e.g., Department of Children's Services, Children's Aid, Department of Child and Family Services. There is some consistency in the nature of laws, though the application of the laws varies across the country.

The United Nations has addressed child abuse as a human rights issue, adding a section specifically to children in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding… should be afforded the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

Child protection by country[edit]

Most countries have introduced laws to protect and prevent children and young persons from certain threats or harms.

United Kingdom[edit]


The 1908 introduced Children Act 1908 and the Children and Young Person Act 1920 where a bundle of laws to protect young persons and children in the early 20th century. Followed by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 which summarized the both laws into one single law.

Important Changes in 1933:

  • Minimum age of execution was raised from 16 to 18 years.
  • The age of criminal responsibility was raised from 7 to 8 years.
  • Introduction of a minimum working age of 14 years.
  • The minimum age to smoke and to buy tobacco products was set at 16 years.
  • The minimum age for prostitution and to enter a brothel is set at 16 years.
  • The minimum age to give alcohol to a child on a private premises is set at 5 years.

Current legislations[edit]

Protection from Legislation Regulation
Alcohol Licensing Act 2003
Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  • It is illegal to sell, serve or offer alcoholic drinks to anyone under the age of 18.
  • It is illegal to sell or offer liqueur confectionery to anyone under the age of 16.
  • It is illegal to serve beer, wine or cider on licensed premises to anyone under the age of 16; 16 and 17-year-olds may be served if an adult orders with a meal (not needed in Scotland).
  • It is illegal to give alcohol to children under the age of 5 years on private premises.
Tobacco The Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order 2007
Children and Young Persons Act 1933
(Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010)
Tobacco Retailers Act (Northern Ireland) 2014
  • It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. (previously 16 before 2007)
  • It is illegal to permit anyone under the age of 18 to smoke in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • It is illegal to permit anyone under the age of 16 to smoke in England and Wales.
Gambling Gambling Act 2005
National Lottery Regulations 1994
  • It is illegal to permit anyone under the age of 18 to enter a casino or licensed gambling premises, and to permit them to gamble.
  • It is illegal to sell scratch cards or lottery tickets to anyone under the age of 16.
Child employment Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (England)
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • To start part-time work one must be at least 13 years of age.
  • Children can work a maximum 40 hours per week, if they have reached the minimum school leaving age.
  • To work full-time one must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Some hazardous or hi risk work requires a person to be 18 or over, (working as a police officer or a firefighter for example) and in some cases 21 and over (working as a driving instructor or large HGV driver for example)
Fireworks Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010
Fireworks Regulations 2004
  • It is illegal to sell or possess adult fireworks (category 2 and 3) under the age of 18.
  • It is illegal to sell or possess fireworks (category 1) under the age of 16.
  • It is illegal to sell or possess "Christmas crackers" under the age of 12.
Video games and films Video Recordings Acts of 1984 and 2010
  • It is illegal to sell, rent or permit to see a movie to anyone under the approved age restriction.

Films, as of 2015 the age ratings currently include,

  • U (Universal, recommended for all ages)
  • PG (Parental Guidance, recommended for all ages, although some content may be unsuitable for younger children, typically under the age of 8)
  • 12 and over (only suitable for persons 12 and over)
  • 12A (only suitable for persons 12 and over, although a person under 12 may view a 12A in a cinema if accompanied by a person 18 or over. This is a special rating only used in cinema's and does not include films bought from a shop for example)
  • 15 (only suitable for persons aged 15 or over)
  • 18 (only suitable for persons aged 18 or over)
  • 18R (only suitable for person aged 18 over. This is a special rating used only for the sale and viewing of pornography in licensed sex shops).
  • It is illegal to sell or rent films to anyone under the approved age restriction.

(U and PG ratings are unrestricted)

Video games, as of 2015 the age ratings currently include,

  • PEGI 3 (only suitable for persons aged 3 or over)
  • PEGI 7 (only suitable for persons aged 7 or over)
  • PEGI 12 (only suitable for persons aged 12 or over)
  • PEGI 16 (only suitable for persons aged 16 or over)
  • PEGI 18 (only suitable for persons aged 18 or over)
  • It is illegal to sell or rent video games to anyone under the approved age restriction.

(PEGI 3 and PEGI 7 are unrestricted)

Aerosol spray paint Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 It is illegal to sell aerosol spray paint to anyone under the age of 16.
Cruelty to persons under sixteen Children and Young Persons Act 1933 It is illegal to anyone 16 or over who has responsibility for any child or young person under that age to: wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons, or exposes him, or causes or procures him to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed, in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, and any mental derangement).
Causing or allowing persons under sixteen to be used for begging Children and Young Persons Act 1933 It is illegal to let anyone beg in public places under the age of 16.
Sexual abuse Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009
The age of sexual consent is 16 in the whole of the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This also includes all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territory's. However, it is illegal for someone in a position of trust to have sex with anyone under the age of 18. A person in a position or trust includes a person such as a teacher, doctor, etc. It is illegal to posses indecent or pornographic still/moving images of a person under 18 (previously under 16 before the sexual offences act 2003 raised the age to 18)

See also[edit]

Prominent child protection organizations[edit]



  1. ^ Open public consultation - EU guidance on integrated Child Protection Systems.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Fieldston, Sara. Raising the World: Child Welfare in the American Century (Harvard University Press, 2015) 316 pp.
  • McCutcheon, James, 2010."Historical Analysis and Contemporary Assessment of Foster Care in Texas: Perceptions of Social Workers in a Private, Non-Profit Foster Care Agency". Applied Research Projects. Texas State University Paper 332.
  • Handbook: Child protection UNICEF, IPU, 2004
  • Eileen Munro.2008. Effective Child Protection. Publisher-SAGE ISBN 1412946956, 9781412946957.
  • Jeff Fowler. 2003. A Practitioner's Tool for Child Protection and the Assessment of Parents. Publisher Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 1843100509, 9781843100508
  • Eileen Munro. 2007. Child Protection: Sage Course Companions Series. Publisher- SAGE. ISBN 1412911796, 9781412911795
  • Harries et al. 2008. Reforming Child Protection. Publisher- Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0415429056, 9780415429054
  • Janet Polnay. 2001. Child Protection in Primary Care. Publisher-Radcliffe Publishing. ISBN 1857752244, 9781857752243
  • Chris Beckett. 2007. Child Protection: An Introduction. Publisher-SAGE. ISBN 1412920922, 9781412920926
  • Gerald Cradock. Risk, Morality, and Child Protection: Risk Calculation as Guides to Practice. Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 29, No. 3, Special Issue: Reconstructing Order through Rhetorics of Risk (Summer, 2004), pp. 314–331
  • Leigh A. Faulconer. In the Best Interests of Children? Family Relations, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 261–263
  • Eileen Munro. Common errors of reasoning in child protection work