In every part of the world, children are particularly vulnerable beings thus they should be in contained of every rights that recognize their need for protection and harboured away from any intentional and unintentional harm. Littlechild (2000) construe ‘child protection’ as children requiring proper protection from their states and agents, because they are not up to power in protecting themselves. It is fundamental children should be nurtured in a safe and healthy environment, benefitting them in all areas of development and future progress. Siraj-Blatchford and Woodhead (2009) shared, a child’s progress and success in life depends primarily on the earliest experiences of a child’s learning. It is the responsibility and duty of care of the stakeholders to safeguard children by creating a positive and responsive environment for them.
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O’Donnell and Seymour (2004) analysed issues of children’s disadvantages in unfavourable situations are due to economic factors, poverty, social values, norms and traditions. These adversities put children at stake of education disadvantages and impairment in aspects of physical, intellectual and social-emotional development. These consequently escalate later in life to unemployment, violence, crimes, poor housing, poor health and illness hence shortening lives and poor parenting skills to provide for the younger ones. Davis (2011) identified these conditions persist from childhood to adulthood and transmit across one generation to another. He added that intervention services are needed for these people so as they can better provide and equip themselves with common necessities and break the cycle of poverty. Laming (2009) acknowledged the same to protect children at risk and actions to be taken at soonest. It is necessary for stakeholders with authority to interrupt the chain of negative effects by investing early and intensively in children’s rights and wellbeing.
Outlining UNCRC, Britto (2012) noted it has incorporated fifty-four articles, categorized into three focuses: key principles, humanitarian rights, and means of monitoring the convention. Lundy, McEvoy and Byrne (2011) suggested areas in humanitarian rights which children should be entitled on are education, play, privacy, health and healthcare as well as adequate standard of living and protection from harmful influences. UNCRC establishes on three main fields of children’s rights: protection, provision and participation (Leer, 2009). In Winter (2011), Alderson (2008) exemplified an insight to each field. He addresses on protection (in forms of abuse, harm, exploitation, neglect and violence), provision (of services, support, guidance and information) and participation (whereby children being fully involved in family, cultural and social life). UNCRC aims to help children in meeting necessity basic needs and expanding opportunities that reaches out in developing children’s full potential. In doing so, UNCRC brings a community together in creating a protective environment for their children.
Saffigna et al (2011) noted intricacy in defining every child’s experience of community as all of them differ. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems theory identifies a child is influenced indirectly and directly by five intersecting systems. These environmental factors can be people, neighbourhood, home, traditions, schools, cultures, laws, services, policies, ministries and relationships. Woodhead (2006) detailed with microsystems being closest to child, everyday settings usually home and school, and relationships with people in there. Mesosystems are interrelationships between microsystems, exosystems refer to strong influences acting indirectly on the child such as local government, welfare services and polices, and last but not least, macrosystems ‘acknowledge the mediating influence of dominant beliefs and values around children’ (Woodhead, 2006). Drawing from there, the UNCRC is logically to be field in the outermost layer of the ecological system theory as Vaghri et al (2011) defined, articles 42-45 of the Convention accedes in assisting state parties to better comprehend, administer and monitor the implementation of UNCRC in their respective countries.
UNCRC influences the composition of society’s image on children, early childhood and the practices. They increase awareness all over the world to provide a fair ‘level playing field’ for protecting children from disadvantages (Siraj-Blatchford, 2009). Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC, 1989) adjure governments in undertaking ‘all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures’ to ensure children achieves equality, receives protection and the rights to survival and development in all areas. The convention requires governments undertaking all measures to greatest extent pertaining to their available resources complying with UNCRC. For instance pledging children’s rights to the fullest potential of mental and physical health (Fortin, 1999). According to Welbourne (2002) by Shier (2001), it is mandatory that all authority and organizations signatory to the UNCRC ought to be committed in making them part of their laws and to ensure that their practices should be all time consistent and conforming with the standards set on protecting the rights and intended benefit of children. Mekonen (2010) derived state parties’ efforts in meeting the convention’s obligations to children reflect children’s significance on their policy agendas hence is creating a child-friendliness state. This indicates UNCRC’s power to drive on state parties on to take on different views and perspectives in making differences to better quality welfare for best interest of children. That being said, there remain concerns of to what extent does UNCRC protect children and making differences in their lives.
Across to the Committee on Rights of the Child (1989), articles dealing specifically on the protection of children comprises of extensive areas. The focus areas decided upon on are: child labour and education. The programme shares how UNCRC was beneficial to the children who fall through the cracks in Paraguay.
Article 32 of the CRC commits state parties in protecting children from economic exploitation and labour that is prone to hazardous or interference to children’s education and overall development. Children who are actuated to labour are derived of opportunities, development and childhood (Dukess, 2006). Poverty is a potential cause that drives children to labour (UNICEF,2012). To break the cycle, it is to ensure children get access to attend school and receive a quality education.
In Paraguay, UNICEF (2007) analysed that in 2001, there were 1 in every 5 children who were economically active, some beginning at an early age and those working daily shown poorer academic results. Searching for attempts to eradicate child labour in these communities, the government initiated Abrazo Programme in 2005 based on the methodology developed by UNICEF (UNICEF, 2010). ESC (2010) briefed Abrazo Programme as a blanket that provides care and attention, such as healthcare access, education support and other benefits for children and their families. It is inclusive of financial support via conditional cash transfers. This policy instrument renders cash transfers directly to households, however as programme’s requirement, parents are expected to send their children to school in return (Fors, 2012).
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Being part of the Abrazo Programme, Cabrera (2010) noted that presences of community centres in the neighbourhoods are safe havens for children. Providing them with education reinforcements, playgrounds, lunch and social assistances. Children have access to education and are provided with one healthy meal per day. The Social Welfare Institute contributes food supplies, benefitting children with necessary nutrition yet also creating jobs for mothers preparing meals. Children from other schools are welcomed to the centre after their classes, thus cases of children facing abuse and exploitation on the streets becomes less likely.
Though education is an significant factor in terms of enriching children’s life-long skills to future engagement (Mekonen, 2010), qualities of education centres are vital tools to children’s learning, containing: teachers, lessons, resources and materials. Rivkin, Hanushek and Kain (2005) highlighted that teachers’ effectiveness determines school’s quality. To hire and retain teachers, the Houston Independent School District (2008) established the Abrazo New Teacher Induction Program providing grade-level trainings and mentoring for beginning teachers with the veterans. Expanding the concept, they work together towards a new scheme compromising of professional development trainings for all teachers. Though workshop opportunities and community support groups for upgrading, equipping teachers with better knowledge and practices in classrooms. The program ensures teachers’ learning and teaching in constant betterment in order to provide productively for children. Teachers are necessities for schools’ functioning, hence the importance on their quality. Dale (2004) analysed to acquire phenomenal transformation experiences; these outcomes have to go through commendable interagency bundles with assessment and proficient professionals.
Paraguay raises profiles of children’s rights significantly with support and guidance of UNCRC. As poverty is a major challenge to child vulnerability, the Abrazo program was formed intended to reduce poverty in the long run to improve lives of children. Although it benefitted Paraguayans, there is lack of accurate statistics that track progress on child labour. Explained by Joleby and Konstadinidis (2008) the difficulty faced while collating findings was some children were never registered in Paraguay’s records, whereas UNICEF only provided general look with no specific data.
To evaluate phenomenon of UNCRC, Mekonen (2010) discerned it is measured by the state parties’ effort of inputs that they channelled for the benefit of children and outcomes they achieve. It is more helpful if stakeholders within states are in conjunction with the UNCRC and play by the laws and policies in attaining child’s well-being. Noted by Axford (2008), anything that ‘contributes to the development and sustenance’ of child’s well-being and growth plays a role: these involve the whole Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System. Despite commitment of multisectoral strategies and plans of actions, approaches to protect and up bring a child is to broad extent depending on the caregivers in the microsystem as they have closest interaction with the child. The caregivers’ behaviour, imparted knowledge, traditions and cultures affect their practices with children. Hence, O’Donnell and Seymour (2004) determined that it is substantial for frontline staffs to be equipped with the skills in recognizing and knowing how to respond to children in need. The UNCRC acts as a push factor for people to have more awareness on the importance of early childhood and encourages stakeholders to invest in early childhood sector. As discussed before, investing in early childhood breaks poverty in distant future. Children are more competent of success in life through good health and nutrition, and quality education programmes with appropriate stimulation and interaction with others (The World Bank, 2011). The UNCRC advocates encouragement and support for countries to invest in the future workforce thriving the lives of children generation after generation as a society.
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