Monday 24 December 2007

Ensuring meaningful child and youth participation

Ensuring meaningful child and youth participation in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children: the ECPAT experience

Children's participation is especially important in fighting their exploitation. Children have the right to be involved in decisions that affect them such as the kind of assistance to be provided. They have the right to have decisions (and the considerations that led to those decisions) reviewed. They can play important roles in improving services (in rehabilitation centres for example), they can reach out to their peers to inform them about their rights and make them aware of certain risks, and they can assist in designing prevention, rehabilitation and advocacy programmes.

Unlike many other organisations that deal with exploitation of children ECPAT International has embraced children and youth participation as an important principle and policy in their work.

ECPAT International has published a number of materials related to their practice and policy of involving children and youth, such as:

Good practices for working with experiential and at-risk youth

Information about the ECPAT International Child and Youth Advisory Committee

Information about the Youth Partnership Project in South Asia

ECPAT's latest publication is a report of a survey of its practice worldwide to involve children and youth.

It provides useful insights in practice and methods of involving children and youth and the challenges encountered. The publication also includes the full text of ECPAT’s child and youth participation policy and their child protection policy.

The report notes that:

“Strengthening ECPAT’s child and youth participation has been a process of exploration and innovation which is still at its early stages of refinement and development. As children and youth have been mobilised for social action, the resource needs (both in human resources and financially) have become more apparent. However, if we recognise children’s participation as a fundamental part of the strategy to achieve children’s protection from sexual exploitation, then we are also recognising our own responsibility to uphold children’s fundamental rights.”

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