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EU action to protect children from violence and when they are vulnerable

Most violence against children takes place in the context of families, but some children may be exposed to great risks of violence due to external factors, such as those in situations of migration or seeking international protection, including:

  • undocumented or stateless children
  • children who are neglected, or without appropriate care
  • children in detention or in residential care
  • children who go missing or who are abducted by a parent
  • child victims of trafficking
  • discriminated against children including Roma children and children with disabilities
  • children in detention
  • children in conflict with the law
  • children left behind by parents moving abroad for work
  • EU national children who themselves move alone or without appropriate care within the EU
  • children of parents in prison
  • children in situations of extreme material deprivation. 

Most violence against children takes place in the context of families, but some children may be exposed to great risks of violence due to external factors, such as those in situations of migration or seeking international protection, including undocumented or stateless children, children who are neglected, or without appropriate care, children in detention or in residential care, children who go missing or who are abducted by a parent, child victims of trafficking, discriminated against children including Roma children and children with disabilities, children in detention, children in conflict with the law, children left behind by parents moving abroad for work, EU national children who themselves move alone or without appropriate care within the EU, children of parents in prison, or children in situations of extreme material deprivation. 

10 Principles for integrated child protection systems

The overarching goal of national child protection systems is to protect children from violence.  The strengthening of Integrated child protection systems was the main topic of the 2015 Forum on the rights of the child. A Reflection paperpdf Choose translations of the previous link  prepared for this occasion included 10 Principles for integrated child protection systems.  


In short the 10 Principles includepdf:  
1.    Every child is recognised, respected and protected as a rights holder, with non-negotiable rights to protection.
2.    No child is discriminated against.
3.    Child protection systems include prevention measures.
4.    Families are supported in their role as primary caregiver (through for instance universal and targeted services, particularly through prevention)
5.    Societies are aware and supportive of the child's right to freedom from all forms of violence.
6.    Child protection systems ensure adequate care. This includes, amongst others:

  • standards, indicators and systems of monitoring and evaluation
  • child safeguarding policies and reporting mechanisms for organisations working directly and with children
  • certification and training for all professionals working for and with children

7.    Child protection systems have transnational and cross-border mechanisms in place.
8.    The child has support and protection (for instance, no child should be without the support and protection of a legal guardian or other recognised responsible adult or competent public body at any time)
9.    Training on identification of risks is delivered to a wide range of people working for and with children (including all teachers, health sector professionals, social workers, etc).
10.   There are safe, well-publicised, confidential and accessible reporting mechanisms in place.


See the case studies explaining 10 Principles on integrated child protection systemspdf.

Children in vulnerable situations

The number of child victims of violence in the EU remains high. The causes of this persistent violence are manifold. Socially or culturally accepted forms of violence against children constitute deeply entrenched barriers in the EU, where to date, for example, only 21 EU Member States have prohibited corporal punishment of children in all settings. See UN GC No 8 and 2014 Global report Ending legalised violence against childrenpdf.

1. For example, children in migration are in a particularly vulnerable situation, and they frequently do not enjoy access to, amongst others, protection, education, and health services. Those coming to the EU from third countries can face many threats to their well-being.

2. Each day, children are trafficked or fall victim to sexual abuse, or physical abuse, such as corporal punishment. Children may also go missing, or become victims of (cyber)bullying.
3. According to Eurostat, approximately 26.9% of children under age of 18 in the EU were at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2015, and it is estimated that 9.5% suffered from severe material deprivation.

4. Children involved in justice systems along with other children in vulnerable situations, such as those living in institutions for people with disabilities, can face numerous restrictions to or violations of their rights.
5. Some children may face multiple disadvantages, and encounter extra difficulty in ensuring respect of their basic human rights, such as children in migration, children with disabilities, Roma children.


Child protection policies for organisations working with children


Organisations working directly for and with children should be guided by child protection policies and have reporting mechanisms in place.  The Keeping Children Safe four International child safeguarding standards are as follows:
Standard 1: Policy
The organisation develops a policy that describes how it is committed to preventing, and responding appropriately to, harm to children
Standard 2: People
The organisation places clear responsibilities and expectations on its staff and associates and supports them to understand and act in line with these
Standard 3: Procedures
The organisation creates a child-safe environment through implementing child safeguarding procedures that are applied across the organisation
Standard 4: Accountability
The organisation monitors and reviews its safeguarding measures


You can find more about safeguarding standards in this documentpdf Choose translations of the previous link . It provides good guidance on what policies should cover and achieve based on the case studies.
Check background documents on the integrated child protection systems and compilation of EU-funded projects on rights of the child and violence against childrenpdf