Evidence about the Effectiveness of Child Protection Programmes in Developing Countries

Child protection is defined as ‘measures and structures to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence affecting children. […] The goal of child protection is to promote, protect and fulfil children’s rights to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence as expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child […] and other human rights, humanitarian and refugee treaties and conventions, as well as national laws’ (Save the Children, n. d.).

Despite the importance of ensuring effective protection for children based on solid assessments of activities, there is little evidence on the effectiveness of child protection programmes in developing countries. Moreover, part of the available evidence on effectiveness is very descriptive and does not provide information on links between given development practices on the one hand and improved outcomes and impact for children on the other. Despite the lack of robust evidence and limited consistent findings, there are some helpful targeted insights into what works and what does not work in improving and ensuring child protection in developing countries. These points are drawn mostly from a small number high quality reviews, in particular, UNICEF’s comprehensive 2012 review of evaluations of its projects for protecting children from violence1.

This report will first identify and describe the state of available evidence. It will then present findings on the effectiveness of child protection programmes in developing countries, grouped around five selected areas on which significant evidence is available: general factors affecting the effectiveness of child protection programmes; different types of child protection measures; specific settings and contexts; specific categories of children; and cost effectiveness. Given the fragmentation of available literature and the limited space of this helpdesk report, each section will give selected highlights as a reflection of the evidence base.

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