UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti
This report by Natasha Blanchet-Cohen for the Innocenti Research Centre examines the role of child agency as it relates to child protection. The focus arises from recognition that child protection approaches can be ineffective, and even counterproductive, when local context is not given sufficient attention (Bissell et al., 2007). The prevailing child protection models – child rescue, social services and medical models – commonly neglect local community assets, including the role of children themselves. Yet in many cases these assets may play a critical role, particularly when family and community are the primary line of defence to protect children from violence and exploitation. Rethinking child protection from a rights perspective requires building on empirical and theoretical understandings of child agency and child development, and the interactions between them.