When working with children, whether on an informal, community basis or as a paid professional, it is vital that you are aware of how to keep children safe and recognise if they are being harmed. There is no country in the world were children are not abused. Child abuse crosses all cultures and social groups; the perpetrators can be women but are more frequently men.
What is child abuse?
Child maltreatment or child abuse is defined by the World Health Organisation as:
“Child maltreatment, sometimes referred to as child abuse and neglect, includes all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation that results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity. Within this broad definition, five subtypes can be distinguished – physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect and negligent treatment; emotional abuse; and exploitation.” 13
Typically child abuse is sub divided into 4 categories:
Physical abuse of a child is defined as the intentional use of physical force against a child that results in
– or has a high likelihood of resulting in – harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence against children in the home is inflicted with the objective of punishment.
Sexual abuse is defined as the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to or for which the child is not developmentally prepared, or else that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Children can be sexually abused by both adults and other children who are – by virtue of their age or development – in a position of responsibility, trust or power over the victim.
Emotional & psychological abuse involves both isolated incidents as well as a pattern of failure over time on the part of the parent or caregiver to provide a developmentally appropriate and supportive environment. Acts in this category may have a high probability of damaging the child’s physical or health or development. Abuse of this type includes: restriction of movement; patterns of belittling, blaming, threatening, frightening, discriminating against or ridiculing; and other non-physical forms of rejection or hostile treatment.
Neglect includes both isolated incidents as well as a pattern of failure over time on the part of a parent or caregiver or other family member to provide for the development and well-being of the child – WHERE THE PARENT IS IN A POSITION TO DO SO – in one or more of the following areas:
- Emotional development
- Shelter & safe living conditions
It is important to note that the parents of neglected children are not necessarily poor; they may equally well be financially well off.
Preventing Child Abuse – World Health Organisation
Child maltreatment, in children aged 0-14, by parents and caregivers can be prevented by:
- reducing unintended pregnancies
- reducing harmful levels of alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy
- reducing harmful levels of alcohol and illicit drug use by new parents
- improving access to high quality pre- and post-natal services
- providing home visitation services by professional nurses and social workers to families where children are at high-risk of maltreatment
- providing training for parents on child development, non-violent discipline and problem-solving skills
Violence involving children in community settings, especially adolescents aged 15-18, can be prevented through:
- pre-school enrichment programmes to give young children an educational head start
- life skills training
- assisting high-risk adolescents to complete schooling
- reducing alcohol availability through the enactment and enforcement of liquor licensing laws, taxation and pricing
- restricting access to firearms
For further information please see the WHO guidance Preventing Child Maltreatment: A Guide to Taking Action and Generating Evidence available on the WHO website: http://www.who.int/topics/child_abuse/en/
This training manual is designed to be used by those who come into contact with vulnerable migrants. It aims to promote good practice in the identification and prevention of abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking, female genital mutilation and forced labour, whilst equipping those who use it with basic training skills. The exercises are developed from the lessons learnt and experience of ECPAT trainers. It is designed to be adapted and delivered easily without the need for extensive resources.
This manual is aimed at identifying people entering or living in a country where they were not born who are vulnerable to exploitation. It is important here to define which people we are targeting through this manual. These are short definitions which are explored further throughout the manual.
Asylum Seeker is someone who is fleeing persecution and has lodged an application for protection on the basis of the Refugee Convention or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, ECHR. http://rightsinfo.org/the-rights-in-the-european-convention/
Human Trafficking is the movement or harbouring of a person, through the use of force or coercion for the purpose of exploitation, typically for work, sexual exploitation, criminal purposes or organ removal.
For the full definition, refer to: UN Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, 2006. https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/legislation-and-case-law-international-legislation-united-nations/united-nations-protocol-prevent_en
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are people or groups of individuals who have been forced to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of, or in order to avoid the effects of, armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural or man-made disasters, and who have not crossed an international border.
Refugee is a person who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.’ (Definition quoted from the 1951 Refugee Convention) http://www.unhcr.org/uk/1951-refugee-convention.html
Third Country National (TCN) refers to individuals who are in transit and/or applying for visas in countries that are not their country of origin (i.e. country of transit), in order to go to destination countries that is likewise not their country of origin.