Ensuring a strong culture of child safeguarding is essential to guaranteeing every child’s right to freedom from violence and discrimination

New York, 13 October 2021 – Child Safeguarding policies are essential to ensure that children are free from harm wherever they are - whether they are learning, being active in sports, engaged in arts or community organizations, or in institutions charged with their care and protection.

To promote, learn and share experiences in building a stronger culture of child safeguarding, the Office of Special Representative on Violence against Children joined forces with the Permanent Mission of Dominican Republic, the Permanent Mission of Ireland, SOS Children’s Villages, World Organization of Scouts Movement, and child representatives in an online event entitled “Child safeguarding: for children and with children.” 

The event brought together key stakeholders from around the world and across different sectors to exchange experiences of developing child safeguarding policies and promoting the adoption and implementation of rights-based approaches to child safeguarding. 

In her opening remarks, SRSG Najat Maalla M’jid addressed the critical role of child safeguarding in ensuring the rights of children and keeping children safe from violence.

“Ensuring a strong culture of child safeguarding is essential to guaranteeing every child’s right to freedom from violence and discrimination. Everyone has a role to play. All public and private institutions and organizations working for and with children must ensure that they keep all children safe from all forms of violence.” stressed Dr. Maalla M'jid.

Efficient safeguarding practices require the commitment of governments, national authorities, and civil society organizations to strengthen action, change organizational cultures, and create enabling legal frameworks. 

“Keeping children safe at the top of the agenda is crucial at governmental level, at national organizations, and in local groups. We have to be constantly vigilant to ensure that children are kept free from violence.” addressed Ms. Michèle Clarke, Chief Social Worker, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth of Ireland. 

The panel also discussed the safe and meaningful participation of children and youth in the efforts to protect children from violence and develop child safeguarding policies. The empowerment of children lies at the heart of a truly child rights-based approach and is an indispensable part of prevention. 

Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General World Organization of Scouts Movement, highlighted the importance of the empowerment of children and a safe environment for them to speak up. Once a Scout himself, he believes that Scouting holds a major solution for youth development in the 21st century. 

“What we are witnessing today are new forms of violence and exercises against children that are requiring from all of us to have the humility to listen more, to recognize the expertise and the knowledge and the experiences of children themselves, and to make sure that our organizations offer the platform for them to speak up,” said Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi. 

The child representatives from organizations across sectors shared their experiences and insights into the issue of child safeguarding. They proposed valuable recommendations for the organizations regarding how to include children in the decision-making processes.  

The progress of adoption and implementation of effective child safeguarding remain uneven. An inclusive, rights-based, and cross-sectoral approach is essential to keep children safe. SRSG Najat Maalla M’jid will continue to use her global mandate to encourage partnership and cooperation across diverse sectors and in different parts of the world to tackle these problems and build a stronger culture of child safeguarding.

“By showing leadership within our own fields, working together, sharing our experience, and supporting each other, we can continue to push for positive change,” concluded SRSG Najat Maalla M’jid.

Watch the full event here.