World Vision’s long-term presence in thousands of communities means that everyday we are confronted with the shocking reality that hundred of millions of children experience violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Their rights to care and protection are ignored.
We encounter tragic stories of sexual exploitation and abuse, trafficking, dangerous work, violence against children and the recruitment of child soldiers. Many traditional practices, such as early marriage, are also harmful. Children are particularly vulnerable in the face of natural disaster or human conflict. All of these threats have long-lasting effect on a child’s wellbeing.
How we protect children
Our vision is that by 2020 children in the world’s hardest places will live free from exploitation and abuse, in communities where they can flourish. We provide financial and technical support for World Vision programmes that empower children to protect themselves. We also work with their families, communities and governments to strengthen the systems (see diagram below) that protect them. Often these children are hidden away, but working closely with the local community we are able to reach these most vulnerable children.
We also advocate for the UK government to use its influence to better protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Our main focus is protecting children from:
- Early marriage
- Child labour
- Sexual abuse and exploitation
- Impacts of armed conflict
In 2012, World Vision supported 21 projects across 14 countries to improve child protection, benefiting 626,779 children living in the world’s hardest places.
But making positive changes in the lives of children torn apart by poverty and conflict isn’t something we can do alone.
We have achieved all this by working closely with communities to create, for example, child-friendly spaces where vulnerable children can be safe and access vital services, and by supporting child protection committees to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged children.
We also helped communities identify their main child protection threats and advocate with their government to strengthen protection systems. For example we are involved in the creation of a new law in Somaliland and a national child protection policy in Tanzania.
All this together contributes to an increase in the protection of children. Out of a sample of 13 World Vision community development programmes, people living in 12 of these communities reported an increase in the number of children living a life free from neglect, violence and abuse.
ANIKA (name changed)
Anika from Bangladesh was at risk of being married off when she was just 14-years-old. She saw many other girls dropping out of school to be married – often into exploitative, violent and risky situations.
However, Anika joined a child rights club supported by World Vision and gained the skills and confidence needed to make her community aware of the negative effects of early marriage.
Now Anika has joined her voice to those calling for change at a national level and with World Vision’s support has taken her message about the harm that early marriage can cause to the United Nations.
SARAH (name changed)
In Tanzania, 11-year-old Sarah became aware that a classmate was to be illegally subjected to female circumcision. Having received life skills training from World Vision, Sarah knew this was wrong and that she could do something about it.
Sarah spoke with a teacher who referred the matter to community child protection committee, supported by World Vision. The committee then stopped the circumcision.
Since then Sarah has trained other children in life skills and also explained the allegation management process to a senior member of the police, which helped to strengthen local child protection systems.