Leading with young people, addressing vulnerability from human strengths, and systems building from the “bottom up”
Empathetic, Evidence Based, Engaged Action
IICRD defines child protection as a process of strengthening “bottom up”, child, family and community assets and wellbeing in addressing risks to children, to inform “top down” rights based legislation, policies and practices of governments, civil society and private sector actors in inter-sectoral, child centred partnerships.
IICRD approaches child protection from a “contextualized” understanding, that emphasizes evidence informed, developmental approaches to managing human adversity. This begins by understanding current theory of children’s development, especially development in adversity. It involves engaging children and their communities in identifying risk factors and mobilizing protective mechanisms as part of wider community development. Finally it places the child protection endeavor in the broader context of international development, recognizing that children make up a significant percentage of the human family and are both significantly impacted by global change while shaping significant aspects of this change.
Our approach differs markedly from a “universalistic” orientation to protection that applies international norms and standards to laws, policies and community programs, with child and community engagement frequently coming last and in some instances not at all.
IICRD has been working for close to 20 years in many communities, countries and regions and has developed a core set of team competencies to influence systems change with children. We also have a global network to contextualize and refine these capacities. Recently, our attention has focused on the need for informed theory, skills and practitioner self-awareness to strengthen community based systems of protection. In this process we seek endogenous (developed from with children’s own networks and their communities) solutions to preventing violence, abuse and exploitation of children. We are leveraging our team and network expertise to teaching, research and monitoring and evaluation to strengthen local community based child protection systems, influence national and international advocacy, and create theories of change for ongoing learning and action that partners with and supports children.
By leading with children’s concern for their rights and the rights of others this approach is empathetic. By drawing on the best of interdisciplinary teaching, research, monitoring and evaluation this approach is evidence based. Finally, by applying the innovative ideas arising from the partnership with children and their communities to local and global systems change, this approach results in engaged action.