Child Rights and Practitioner Wrongs: Lessons from Interagency Research in Sierra Leone and Kenya

Published: 2017
Author: Michael Wessells, Columbia University and Kathleen Kostelny, Columbia Group for Children in Adversity

Child rights are fundamental for ending violence and injustice against children and promoting children’s wellbeing. However, the top-down manner of introducing child rights is frequently problematic. Ethnographic research in Sierra Leone and Kenya indicates that top-down, impositional approaches to teaching child rights can lead local people to view child rights as a harm to children or to prefer traditional practices that can clash with human rights standards. To implement child rights, the use of a slow, respectful process of internally guided social change is recommended. To appear in M. Ruck, M. Peterson-Badali, and M. Freeman (Eds.) Handbook of Children’s Rights: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Taylor and Francis.