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Child Abuse & Neglect 34 (2010) 1–4

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Child Abuse & Neglect

Introduction

Twenty years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Achievements in and challenges for child protection implementation, measurement and evaluation around the world

Keywords:
Convention on the Rights of the Child Children’s rights Child protection Child maltreatment Child welfare

To begin, best wishes for a year filled with peace, justice and well-being for all. This Special Issue on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Child Protection is Part II, following from the November 2009 Child Abuse & Neglect Special CRC Anniversary Issue Part I. The first issue focused on progress which had been made 20 years after CRC adoption, in child maltreatment data collection, national surveillance systems and research on violence against children. These experiences and initiatives have been recognized as advancing the rights and protection of children internationally. The Guest Editors are especially pleased to start off the 2010 year for Child Abuse & Neglect readers with a continuing focus on the importance of advancing children’s rights toward stronger protection of all children from all forms of violence, with a special emphasis on child maltreatment research and data collection, but expanded to include perspectives on legal, judicial, systems, as well as socioeconomic and political issues impacting the effective implementation of children’s rights and protection. This issue reminds us that, while the Convention was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 20th of November 1989, and became enforceable from September 2 of 1990, there is still much to be done throughout the world in 2010 to effectively protect children from violence and maltreatment. Insights are shared into the situation of violence against children in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East, recognizing both significant child protection developments, and the challenging barriers facing professionals in this field. As noted in the last issue, the CRC is the only international human rights treaty that has near universal ratification, with the exception of only Somalia and the USA, although there currently appears to be some movement in each nation to advance towards ratification. Once again we have invited authors from around the world, seeking to bridge the gap between theory and practice by sharing their empirical and qualitative research in the field of child maltreatment with the international community. Our goal continues to be to increase the exchange of knowledge, experience and dialogue on child protection practice which is enhanced by the effective leveraging of children’s rights. This issue begins with an invited Commentary which introduces significant progress for children’s rights in courts ˜ ˜ throughout Latin America, entitled “20 ANOS DESPUES DE LA CONVENCION DE LOS DERECHOS DEL NINO: Su Incorporacion en las Constituciones de America Latina y la Jurisprudencia de los Tribunales Constitucionales” (20 Years Since the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Its incorporation into Latin American National Constitutions and the Jurisprudence of Constitutional Tribunals) by Alejandro Morlachetti, an expert consultant to the United Nations. The Commentary reports on successful legal advances in child protection made possible since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). According to Morlachetti, CRC ratification has been followed by a process of incorporation—complete or incomplete—of the Convention into national law. Almost all Latin American countries have undertaken legislative and constitutional reforms, which have consistently given the CRC preeminence over internal law (for example, the Constitutions of Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, among others). These reforms have opened the door to enable jurisprudence to inter0145-2134/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.11.001

com/science/issue/5847-2009-999669988-1554191. HIV/AIDS.sciencedirect. and failure to enforce existing legislation. Currently there doesn’t exist. in conjunction with the establishment of mandatory reporting and data collection procedures. An innovative approach to measuring CRC-mandated child protection and well-being progress was presented in the article “Monitoring the commitment and child-friendliness of governments: A new approach from Africa” by Assefa Bequele and colleagues. evaluating and actually measuring progress being made by States Parties. The study recommends increased community support of victims of child maltreatment for their full recovery and more comprehensive approaches to treatment and services. a single external and systematic approach for monitoring. Mulinge reports that the major socioeconomic and political conditions prohibiting progress for children in 2002. Mulinge concludes that African governments must acknowledge and address the specific socioeconomic and political conditions which undermine the protection of the rights of the child. Further. Mulinge reviewed the current status of the socioeconomic and political impediments studied in 2002. This commentary highlights the role that international and comparative law should play in domestic constitutional interpretation as an effort to enforce the CRC and guarantee the full enjoyment of their rights to all children.” contributed by Dr. Mulinge published a first Commentary on the challenges of implementing children’s rights and protections in sub-Saharan Africa nearly 8 years ago. Similar situations exist in many countries world-wide. to be immediately applicable without the necessity of States Parties to the CRC first implementing legislation or additional regulations. in the context of observing the recent development of a system of intervention for the hospital-based child protection center. the CRC Committee depends on reports and information provided to them or gathered in-country. Upon our invitation. the researchers also projected an increased need for the development and improvement of multi-sectoral services for the abuse victims in their country. In “Analysis of maltreatment experiences of children in protective care in South Korea” by Dr. Anticipating a continuing increase in CAN reporting. of the National Family Safety Council in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Promising progress was charted in the article “Child Abuse and Neglect in Saudi Arabia: Journey of Recognition to Implementation of National Prevention Strategies” by Drs Majid Al Eissa and Maha Almuneef. nor the passing of supportive legislation and policies by governments have succeeded in actually effecting improved child protection and well-being. points out the serious barriers to child protection in many African countries. aligned with UN CRC Article 19. While States Parties to the UN CRC are required to demonstrate ongoing progress in their implementation of CRC requirements. Further. However. Neither the adoption of supportive continental and regional protocols. to eradicate poverty and corruption.com/science/issue/5847-2009-999669988-1554191. particularly poverty. armed conflicts and wars. He challenges them to enforce existing legislation. in 2002. Yanghee Lee and SoYoung Ju. the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) has established a methodology which monitors government performance and compliance in several specific areas with the goal of scoring and ranking each of the 52 African governments in terms of their level . The findings revealed that experiences of physical abuse very often also involved emotional abuse. This article charts a common course of development in many countries recently implementing CAN reporting systems. entitled “Persistent Socioeconomic and Political Dilemmas to the Implementation of the 1989 United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child in sub-Saharan Africa.2 Introduction / Child Abuse & Neglect 34 (2010) 1–4 pret international human rights treaties as having constitutional status in many countries and further. because of challenges for information collection in many areas of child rights and protection and the lack of standards or even guidelines for performance in many areas of protecting children from violence. the study identified the majority of children in protective care as being preschoolers and examined the effects of abuse and subsequent lack of contact with their family on these children. and to raise public awareness about children’s rights. The researchers attributed the increase in reporting generally. and that most offenders were biological parents. Study findings revealed that the total number of cases increased 10-fold during the 8-year period. Munyae Mulinge. rampant corruption. and further. to control HIV/AIDS. This Commentary is published in Spanish here and available in English at http://www. continue to stand in the way of the realization of children’s rights across most of Africa.sciencedirect. the researchers explored the extent of family maltreatment experiences of children in protective care in South Korea to better understand how maltreated children coped with such experiences. that the predominant increase in cases became those of neglect during the latter years of the study. The article: is available in Arabic at http://www. These recommendations are aligned with UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recommendations for prevention of violence and intervention care services (Article 19) and full rehabilitation of the child (Article 39). finding that there have not been major improvements in the well-being of children in Africa since that time. mainly in poverty and with alcohol abuse problems. professional training and data collection to further inform child protection policy and practice. However. They studied the increase in and characteristics of reports during that period. and the improvement in child abuse and neglect discernment and reporting to the increase of recognition of CAN within the child protection center as well as the successful adoption of a system of intervention. a second invited Commentary. Their research was based on a retrospective collection of child abuse and neglect data on children evaluated by the King Abdulaziz Medical City Hospital SCAN team from 2000 to 2008. that while the increase was largely in physical abuse in the first stage of systems development. armed conflicts and wars.

The study reinforces the need for governments to take a systems approach to child protection. but also make it difficult to compare incidence among different jurisdictions. Fallon and colleagues bring to the attention of the readers that how to measure identified maltreatment is something that increasing jurisdictions are grappling with. The approach establishes a practical methodology that could be used or adapted for use by other regions and countries. and services for child abuse and neglect (CAN) victims.Introduction / Child Abuse & Neglect 34 (2010) 1–4 3 of child-friendliness. The study found that 33% of the 42 countries studied had committed to establishing three key CP measures: policy. In “Protecting Children from Violence and Maltreatment: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis Assessing the Implementation of U. information-based programs and social services. CRC Committee Concluding Observations were used to supplement or verify study respondent information. Finally. CRC Article 19. CAN reporting systems. and services for children. The ACPF methodology is based on a Child-Friendliness Index (CFI) with standardized indicators on various dimensions. overrepresentation of minority and indigenous populations of child welfare system is a well documented fact.N. National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS). In their article. resources and legal and policy framework. Germany. In an effort to assist researchers and policy analysts with interpretation of datasets and to assist in adapting surveillance systems according to respective needs. Therefore key areas studied were (a) the commitment to children within public policy. and the United Kingdom. Bahrain. indigenous populations are often over represented in child welfare system. It also reflects exciting progress being made in many countries. causes of compliance or non-compliance. CAN reporting systems.” Kimberly Svevo-Cianci and colleagues provide international findings on child protection progress made by States Parties since 1989. address and overcome the significant problem of violence against children in their countries and internationally. research. we thank . and recommendations on what poorly performing African States Parties could do to fulfill their CRC obligations in these areas. the Russian Federation. as well as professional training and public awareness raising.” Fluke and colleagues used the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect-1998 data set to examine the influence of clinical and organizational characteristics of out-of-home placement decisions and to identify possible decision-making influences related to disparities in Aboriginal children in Canada. Namibia. The authors highlight the strengths and limitations of each surveillance system. In many societies. national policy/legislation and commitment of financial resources. The authors confirmed that disparities among Aboriginal children in child welfare decision-making exist at the agency level. Canada. Burundi. such as poverty. Belgium. Malaysia. (c) the budgets which enable child rights and protection efforts to establish children’s basic needs and full development. Even among the most vulnerable populations. by integrating policy/legislation. affecting the family are most common reasons. Again. The article specifically explored whether States Parties were establishing the following CP measures effectively: public awareness. The top-ranked countries included: Australia. with no discrimination (Article 2). and National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). This Special Issue shares international perspectives and the understanding of how professionals. and/or data collection). better informing child rights advocates and governments on how to accomplish the goal of children’s rights and protection for all children. Finally. including: Kenya. and governments around the world are working to advance child protection. Lebanon. Republic of Korea. CAN data collection. Brazil. as required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. including the most vulnerable. and Rwanda. Further. countries which were lagging were also identified and lack of progress analyzed in this article. Estonia. (b) the establishment and enforcement of legislation for child protection. especially focusing on Article 19. a few of the myriad challenges faced in the critical movement to provide stronger protection of all children from violence and maltreatment. What is even more disappointing is the fact that a large portion of victims of abuse are never admitted or reported to child protection services. These findings present an opportunity for similar research into the issues of indigenous or Aboriginal children and child welfare decision-making in other nations. Morocco. to more effectively guide progress toward establishing child rights and protection. “Placement Decisions and Disparities among Aboriginal Groups: an Application of the Decision Making Ecology through Multi-Level Analysis. Further. Progress was measured regarding the establishment of effective child protection (CP) measures required by CRC Article 19—for all children. Jordan. The authors of “Methodological Challenges in Measuring Child Maltreatment” identify problematic inconsistencies and variations in definitions used make it difficult not only to obtain a clear estimate of child maltreatment. We hope that the double CRC Special Issues (November 2009 and January 2010) have succeeded in providing essential practical information for Child Abuse & Neglect readers to better understand. we hope that this special issue will contribute to advancements around the world in ensuring the rights. The CRC requires States Parties to collect and analyze such information to inform the effective development of child protection in every country. to specifically measure child-related services/outcomes. Madagascar. results indicate that child protection judged as comparatively more successful among study countries resulted from having a CP infrastructure (legislation plus services) and at least one information-based intervention support program (CAN reporting. Lack of appropriate resources at the agency or community level could be one of the reasons for overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in Canadian foster care system. as well as training of CAN professionals. protection and well-being of all children. ACPF identified several African countries as leaders in child protection. Italy. Status of a child and structural risk factors. briefly. A complete picture of the extent of child maltreatment will never be known. CAN research. researchers. the authors compare three major child maltreatment surveillance methods currently used in North America: Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS). a lack of information on actual outcomes for children in most study countries was recognized as a drawback for this study and as a severe barrier to the effective development of programs and services for child protection in most countries. It reflects.

Batavia.4 Introduction / Child Abuse & Neglect 34 (2010) 1–4 the Editorial Board of Child Abuse & Neglect for making the decision for the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Special Issues and for inviting us to serve as guest editors. 1040 Wintergreen Terrace. Department of Human Resources and Development. SKK Law School (Joint Appointments). International Institute of Child Rights and Development. Centre for Global Studies. 53 Myeongnyun Dong 3 Ka. Finally. Republic of Korea ∗ Corresponding author address: Child Rights and Protection Consultancy. Kimberly Svevo-Cianci ∗ Child Rights and Protection Consultancy-International. Jongno Gu. we thank the authors for sharing their important work and research with the international community through these issues. 2 November 2009 Available online 6 January 2010 . IL 60510. Canada Yanghee Lee Department of Child Psychology & Education. USA. University of Victoria. Sungkyunkwan University. Seoul.