Exploring key themes around community-driven child protection

1) Who is a child?

1) Who is a child and how does this impact on child protection programming?

Child protection and child rights frameworks and approaches are often based on the underlying assumption that we all agree on who is a child and what childhood entails. There is now an emerging understanding that many community level child protection initiatives do not take into account the differing views on who is a child and childhood. As a result, community based child protection programmes often encounter challenges when trying to promote social change related to children. For instance, child protection programme messages and objectives may be perceived by communities to be irrelevant or even harmful to children.

As part of efforts to identify and support more truly community-owned and -driven approaches to child protection, the Interagency Learning Initiative on community-based child protection mechanisms and systems strengthening (ILI) set out to unpack the different understandings of children and childhood in a number of communities in Sierra Leone and Kenya and to consider how this might impact on child protection and child rights programming. This is what we learned.

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A child is the one under 10 years because when he goes above ten years that’s not a child.”
(Young man, Marafa, rural Kenya)

Anybody who has no family or has not married not married at all [is a child].“
(Teenage boy, Marafa, rural Kenya)

A child is anyone who does not know how to look for food and depends on the mother for everything.”
(Woman, Msikitini, Mombasa, Kenya)

When a girl stops playing with sand in small containers, you know that she is not a child anymore.”
(Young woman, Msikitini, Mombasa, Kenya)

A child is anyone is not yet big and who has not started doing “mama en dadi bizness
(Mother, Bombali, rural Sierra Leone)

First of all, it is God who destins a child to be successful or not. Also it depends on the parents who rear and the willingness of the child to obey the parents. Then God will decide the fate of the child to be good or not.
(Men‘s group discussion, Bombali, rural Sierra Leone)

Learn more

Read…

What are we learning about protection children in the community?

Author: Mike Wessells, lead consultant, on behalf of an Inter-Agency Working Group, 2009 – This study examined 160 documents about working with community-based groups for child protection. While finding that the evidence base concerning the child protection outcomes achieved by such work, the report identified sets of factors that seemed to contribute to more effective community-based work and outlined promising practices.

Research Brief: An Ethnographic Study of Community-Based Child Protection Mechanisms and their Linkages with the National Child Protection System of Sierra Leone

Author: Inter-Agency Learning Initiative on Community-Based Child Protection Mechanisms and Child Protection System, 2012 – A seven-page summary of an ethnographic study of community-based child protection mechanisms and their linkages with the national child protection system of Sierra Leone.

Learning about children in urban slums (summary)

Author: Mike Wessells, Principal Investigator, on behalf of an Inter-Agency Working Group, 2014 – A four-page overview of a rapid ethnographic study in two urban slums in Mombasa, Kenya, of community-based child protection mechanisms and their links with the national child protection systems.

Community-based child protection mechanisms in Kilifi, Kenya: a rapid ethnographic study in two rural sites (executive summary)

Author: Kostelny, K., Wessells, M., & Ondoro, K., 2014

A summary of research to learn about community-based child protection processes and mechanisms in two mostly rural areas of Kilifi, Kenya. The research is intended to complement and extend the learning that came from previous research by the Inter-Agency Learning Initiative in two urban slums of Mombasa, Kenya.

Community-based child protection mechanisms in Kisii/Nyamira area: a rapid ethnographic study in two rural sites in Kenya (executive summary)

Author: Kostelny, K., Wessells, M., & Ondoro, K., 2014

A summary of research intended to complement and extend the learning from previous research by the Inter-Agency Learning Initiative in two urban slums of Mombasa, Kenya and in two rural areas of Kilifi.

Different cultures, different childhoods

Author: Dr Heather Montgomery, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University (Open Learn, 2013) – A “normal” childhood depends on where you live and when you’re born. Heather Montgomery wonders how some common British practices might look to other cultures.

Watch and Listen

Go to the Exchange’s video channel to watch our playlist of videos and webinars on “Who is a child?”