Objectives: (1) To identify which United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recommended child protection (CP) measures, such as policy, reporting systems, and services for child abuse and neglect (CAN) victims, individually or in combination, were most important in establishing a basic level of child protection in 42 countries; and (2) to assess whether these measures were necessary or sufficient to achieve basic child protection in developing and industrialized countries.
Method: Child protection and/or rights expert respondents from 42 countries completed a questionnaire on CRC Article 19 (CRC19) required CP measures implementation and rated their country's effectiveness in implementation, the current level of effectiveness of child protection, and the relevance of improvements in child protection since the CRC was adopted in 1989. Information from the Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations, as well as UNICEF and WHO indicators on child health and protection issues were used to check and supplement responses. Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) was used to identify child protection measure implementation effectiveness.
Results: Results indicate that child protection judged as comparatively more successful among study countries is a result of having the following measures in place from two types of social programs: a CP infrastructure (legislation plus services) and at least one information-based intervention support program.
Conclusions: Fourteen (33%) countries were determined to have established at least a basic CP system toward protection of children from violence and maltreatment. These countries reported having the three required elements described above. The study reinforces the need for governments to take a systems approach to child protection, including policy/legislation, information-based programs and social services, as well as professional training and public awareness raising. The top-ranked countries included: Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom.
Practice implications: Governments need to establish CP systems with multiple, well-integrated, effective CP measures as elaborated above, working with trained professionals and also raising public awareness to ensure successful protection for all children in every country. Partial measures are not effective. Further, in addition to establishing, implementing, and evaluating the effectiveness of professional interventions, the actual outcomes for children, not studied or reported on here, need to be the priority focus for child protection going forward.
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