Recently I attended a presentation by Eileen Munro, a professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and an expert on child protective services.
As child protection is a major focus area of UNICEFâ€™s work, it was very interesting to hear what Munro had to say about systems of child protection and how they could be improved. UNICEF helps protect children from trafficking, exploitation, violence, abuse and forced labor in countries around the world. And while Munro studied child protection in the U.K., what she found could be applied everywhere. Here are a few highlights from her talk:
The first and foremost thing to remember is that we are dealing with children, not statistics. Itâ€™s something that can easily be forgotten when we are faced with supporting the needs of so many children.
We should remember that human beings are complex, and that in order to best help abused and neglected children we must remain flexible. Facts and figures do not tell the story of a child, and timelines and deadlines might need adjusting as situations change. In some situations, a decision regarding a childâ€™s circumstance must be made immediately, and conversely, a childâ€™s situation can be so complex that it takes longer to reach a decision. Being forced into a decision solely to meet a deadline could have a detrimental impact on a childâ€™s entire life.
Itâ€™s also important to take into account that people who work in child protection also need support and an opportunity to take a step back and look at a situation beyond their own emotional involvement.
I came away from this talk thinking how important it is for UNICEF and other organizations to keep reflecting on the systems in place for child protection and try to find ways to make them better. Eileen Munroâ€™s visit was a way to do just that, and the large turnout showed that people who work for UNICEF are always looking for ways to improve the work that they do.