Unit 1. The Context for Children
Unit 2: Understanding child abuse
Unit 3: Understanding child safeguarding
Unit 4: Safeguarding concerns and abuse

4.1 Child safeguarding and the law

[Video of tutor – Rosa?]

Children share protected universal human rights with all other persons but, in addition, because of their dependence, vulnerability and developmental needs, they also have certain additional rights. The legal basis for prioritised action on behalf of children, are well established in international law.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides a comprehensive code of

rights which offers the highest standards of protection and assistance for children of any international instrument. The issue of legal status of children is particularly important and has very important implications for ensuring birth registration. As a matter of principle, children should not be detained and there are a number of special measures to protect children from unlawful or arbitrary detention.  Refugee and displaced children are particularly at risk from many different types of abuse and exploitation, including child labour and sexual exploitation. Their rights to protection are established through the CRC and other international instruments.

The maintenance of family unity and the reunification of families has been established as a priority in international law.  Education is recognised as a universal human right which is established through a wide range of international and regional instruments. The CRC establishes the right to the highest attainable standard of health for children. The civil rights and freedoms established under the CRC apply equally to all children, who should be provided with opportunities to express their views in any matter affecting them and encouraged to participate in the activities of the community.

The CRC and other instruments provide the right to specific protection for children in situations of armed conflict.

The CRC defines a ‘child’ as everyone under 18 years of age, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier‘ (Article 1). For normal purposes this means that it can be applied to everyone up to 18, unless it is demonstrated that they are an adult under the applicable national law for all purposes or for this specific purpose. In any case, the ‘scheme’  of the CRC suggests that this exception should be interpreted as an empowering one, in other words that under-18s can claim the benefits of adulthood if granted by national law while still being able to claim the protection of the CRC.

In some countries it may be more dangerous to children and other witnesses if child abuse concerns are reported to the national authorities. We must always remember the principle that what is in the best interest of the child is paramount.