Child protection violations and poverty in low- and middle-income countries

The abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is a serious and neglected social problem, with major long-term economic and human development implications in low- and middle-income countries.

This review is part of a research programme focusing on four areas where children’s right to protection is violated on a large scale: child marriage, sexual abuse and exploitation of children, physical violence against children, and the inadequate care of children.

Despite a growing recognition that child marriage, sexual and physical violence, and inadequate care are key barriers to universalising primary and secondary education, and that they and neglect can have profoundly negative effects on human development, child protection is seen as a specialist area outside the area of expertise of many development professionals. At the same time, it is increasingly recognised that much action to protect children from harm tackles only some of the underlying causes. The move within the child protection ‘sector’ towards building effective child protection systems provides a strategic opportunity to develop more holistic approaches to child protection, including poverty-related factors.

This report outlines a preliminary in-depth review of the literature on linkages between poverty and violations of children’s right to protection, an adapted systematic review of child protection interventions, an electronic survey of 268 researchers and practitioners, and telephone and email interviews with 25 researchers and practitioners, mostly working within the child protection field.