Exposing Realities: Children's Legal Protection Centres: A Good Practice Report

Summary: Children’s legal protection centres use a number of complementary strategies to work towards building a protective environment for children. Much of their work revolves around the need for children’s rights to be implemented through institutions, which are often in need of development because of weakness in local rights practices. They use the following strategies to achieve their objectives: holding governments accountable; strengthening government commitment and capacity; establishing networks; and enhancing children’s knowledge of their rights and participation.


This report is entitled ‘Exposing Realities’ because what Children’s Legal Protection Centres (or ‘Centres’) do is to reveal the daily realities of children’s lives and often this reality is grim and hard to look at. These Centres have an excellent vantage point, since they deal with children in contact with the law and in need of protection in all sorts of different contexts: in court rooms, in prisons, on the street, in family homes and in children’s institutions. They take this ground-level knowledge and experience of the realities of children’s lives and channel this upwards and outwards both to expose what is happening and also to influence the concentric circles of care surrounding children: their families, communities, local government, the executive, the judiciary, the legislature and media, as well as the larger international community. Advocacy founded upon firsthand experience can be very powerful because it has conviction and experience behind it.

The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) believes that one important way to narrow the gap between law and practice is to establish Children’s Legal Protection Centres. There are very many of these Centres throughout the world and most of them, although small organisations in and of themselves, have a very wide reach both horizontally and vertically across the societies they are working in. This report documents the work of eight such centres across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America which were selected to cover a geographical range as well as because they are particularly strong and influential organisations.

The unique strength of these organisations lies in the fact that they have in-depth, grass-roots knowledge of the reality of children’s lives and of the working of the child protection structures that surround them. They also have the skills and ability needed to channel this intimate understanding of children’s lives into broader advocacy for reform and improvement at many different levels. This report seeks to elucidate how this direct experience is shaped into effective policy reform and also how advocacy for improvement can be a potent and catalytic force for change. It is hoped that this report will inspire a deeper understanding of the role that these Centres play in strengthening child protection in their own countries and beyond, and that we can learn from them in our own work in building protective environments for children.

The ACPF hopes that this report would be a useful resource for all interested individuals and organisations working on child right issues. The report provides plenty of information on the overall operation of Legal Protection Centres as well as their remarkable achievements and the common challenges they face. In particular, it clearly outlines how such and similar Centres may normally operate and the variety of effective strategies they may employ within their respective political and social context to address the problems children frequently encounter. It would certainly inspire interested child right actors to share relevant experiences and learn from each other as to how they may replicate more successful interventions to redress the abuse and exploitation children are facing everywhere.

Further information:

pdf: http://www.crin.org/docs/documental_9641_en.pdf



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