On the eve of this year’s Child Protection Week and it’s the time for us to ponder the importance of child protection and how it relates to all of us. Not just this week, but throughout the year. Child protection should be at the forefront of our minds. We need to ask the question how do we keep our children safe and what is our role? Child protection is more than a system of laws and policies put in place to prevent harm coming to children. It is more than the professionals and designated child protection agencies that dutifully investigate and intervene in crisis situations. It is more than removals, places of safety and court proceedings. Child protection is about all of us and how we are raising our children. It is the relationships we build, the connections we forge and the support we give.
Child protection is the community soup kitchen with the lady that asks how they are doing. It is the holiday clubs and homework assistance programmes. It is the ad hoc community meeting to address a concern in response to a threat identified. Communities include valuable protection resources such as religious leaders, teachers, elders, nurses, and natural helpers who respond to and prevent harms to children. It is the partnership that exists between the community and the professional organization. It is the prayers and words of encouragement given to the staff. It is the monthly donations that sustain our organizations to reach our communities and families.
Child protection is also the many different faces of people who work with children. It is the teacher who notices a child’s grazed knee, the nurse at the clinic who administers the cure, community worker doing the home visit, and the swimming coach teaching the backstroke. The professionals and carers intricately involved with our children’s lives, who make them wiser, stronger and help them soar. We need to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate them for the role they play.
Child protection is about my work as a caregiver. It is the ordinary activities that shield our children from harm. It is teaching them about boundaries and how to avoid hazards. It is the little guiding conversations and family routines that build connection and belonging. It is the everyday acts of parenting that drives us to want better for our kids. So, this child protection week lets rally around the organizations that support families and children, that promote child safety and provide safe resources for our communities. Let’s focus on the relationships we have with others that help to keep our children safe. Let’s talk to a neighbour, send the teacher an encouraging note and sign that petition in support of family preservation. Let’s look at the big and small ways we are protecting the children in our lives and keep on doing that. Child protection is community, it is relationship, it is trust, it is support, partnering and engagement. Through dialogue and education, we can uplift and inspire. Your child can become my child.
This child protection week let’s consider how child protection is everyone’s business. We are all involved, and we all have a part to play. What’s yours?