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Child protection and welfare: cultures, policies, and practices

Welbourne, Penelope
Dixon, John
Child protection and welfare have become international issues in a globalized world. Ideas about childhood and the upbringing of children vary widely, depending upon the prevailing economic, socio-cultural, religious, and political contexts. These have had dramatic effects on the way societies value children, and the role acquired by the state in their protection and advancing their well-being. Children, however, remain at risk. They are placed at risk by the breakdown of extended family systems as a result of urbanization, and as a result of impaired functioning of some nuclear families, in the absence of kinship safety nets. Some traditional cultural practices place children at risk, especially girl children. Poverty creates risks for all children but it can create specific catastrophic risks for girls. Countries can enact visionary laws intended to protect children, but they will be ineffective against entrenched social attitudes, especially if only limited resources can be provided to implement and enforce them. This is the ultimate challenge that the world community must address if the vision of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is to be realized.