Foundational Concepts
@ Law Aritao | Friday, Mar 5, 2021 | 4 minutes read | Update at Friday, Mar 5, 2021

The aim of this article is to define child protection terms in everyday language, and to introduce concepts essential in child protection.

by Law Aritao | Director, Prosecution and Aftercare, International Justice Mission’s Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children

What is child protection?

Child Protection is the safeguarding of children from harm. The United Nations utilizes this definition:

preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children – including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage. (Source Below)

Who is a child?

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, anyone below 18, unless the local law supplies a different age. In some countries, such as the Philippines, anyone above 18, but unable to protect themselves from harm due to a disability or condition, is also considered a child.

What are child rights?

Human rights that pertain specifically to children.

What are the categories of child rights?

  • Survival rights: to live and have essential needs met;
  • Development rights: to play, receive education, think, exercise belief;
  • Protection rights: to be safe from abuse, exploitation, neglect, violence;
  • Participation rights: to be involved in matters affecting them, to participate socially as they become able.

What is child abuse?

Save the Children defines child abuse this way:

Abuse is a deliberate act of ill treatment that can harm or is likely to cause harm to a child’s safety, well-being, dignity and development. Abuse includes all forms of physical, sexual, psychological or emotional ill treatment. Source: Save the Children Resource Centre.

Republic Act 7610 defines it this way:

(b) “Child abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following:

  1. Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment;
  2. Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being;
  3. Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or
  4. Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death. (RA 7610, Section 3(b))

What is child exploitation?

Save the Children’s Resource Centre provides a succinct definition:

Child exploitation refers to the use of children for someone else’s advantage, gratification or profit often resulting in unjust, cruel and harmful treatment of the child. Source: Save the Children Resource Centre.

What is child sexual abuse?

To involve a child in illegal or developmentally harmful sexual activity.

The above is a succinct paraphrase of concepts in an array of international instruments as collated in the ECPAT/Luxembourg Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse..

What is child sexual exploitation?

Involvement of a child in sexual abuse for someone else’s advantage, gratification, or profit.

The above definition is derived from the concept of exploitation adding a transactional element layered on top of abuse.

What is online child abuse?

Any child abuse connected to the online environment. (Source: Terminology Guidelines as above).

What is online sexual exploitation of children?

Any form of child sexual exploitation connected to the online environment. (Source: Terminology Guidelines as above).

What is the right term for materials produced involving child sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation?

Child sexual abuse materials are the resulting materials from child sexual abuse, while child sexual exploitation materials are the resulting materials from child sexual exploitation. (Source: Terminology Guidelines as above).

What does the Best Interests of the Child mean?

It is a principle found in Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in many domestic laws. In the Philippines, for instance, it is required that the best interests of the child be the main consideration in all actions concerning children. The term is defined by the Supreme Court this way:

“Best interests of the child” means the totality of the circumstances and conditions as are most congenial to the survival, protection, and feelings of security of the child and most encouraging to his physical, psychological, and emotional development. It also means the least detrimental available alternative for safeguarding the growth and development of the child. Source: Rule on Examination of the A Child Witness

Further reading:

International Justice Mission


United Nations / UNICEF on Child Protection:

Save the Children on Child Rights Categories:

© 2021 Child Protection

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