A peer-led child protection programme enables you to work with children themselves to identify the risks and issues facing them, and to support them to take action in their communities. Children benefit from the support of adults to develop a programme of activities, help with discussions and deal with problems that arise. Children can be active participants in keeping themselves safe in their community.
To read about peer-led child protection in practice, click the picture below:
How to set up a peer-led child protection programme
In participatory work with children, part of the adult’s role is to be a teacher, to instruct, give information and check what is learned is correct and at the level that is appropriate to the age and understanding of the children. There is an additional and essential role, that of a facilitator. This role is more children-centred and involves being a ‘guide on the side’ as children learn, plan and take action themselves.
Using needs assessment information to determine a focus for the project
Children can give unique and critical perspectives on important issues, including:
- Where children feel safe and unsafe, and why
- Which people children trust
- Which types of children are most likely to be abused
- Which people help children the most
- What children do when they are abused
Children can be supported to think through the problems they face in their communities and to decide on actions that they can take to increase their safety and wellbeing.
Some examples of participatory research tools to use with children are here:
- Body map
- Community mapping with children
- Community tours with children
- Who keeps children safe?
- Daily activity matrix
- Children’s rights assessment
Deciding on a project
Once children have determined the protection issue(s) they would like to address, work with children to further think about the causes and impacts of this issue, and then find out what they think needs to change to improve the situation.
Once you have a consensus on the best idea, plan how you will make it happen. You should also plan in advance how you will monitor your action and its impact. You should evaluate how successful it has been and what you might do to improve it as you continue working together.
A common model for a peer-led child protection project may be establishing a children’s group in which children meet regularly, supported by adults, and as well as recreational activities, also use the group as a forum for identifying and discussing child protection concerns, and planning ways to take action together.
Ensuring that children receive appropriate support and participation does not put them at risk
Before doing exercises on child protection with children, child protection policies and procedures need to be in place and informed consent obtained from the parents and carers for the children to participate in the sessions granted. It is also important that adult workers have had child protection training including training on how to handle disclosures. Children should be informed of who they can speak to if they wish to talk to an adult privately about any child protection issues after a session.
In emergency settings in particular, ensure that activities planned will not put children at risk, for example by travelling through dangerous areas to reach the activities or by trying to engage children in addressing issues where there are not appropriate support systems in place and children may be put in danger by taking action. Ensure children are always accompanied and supported by adults who have received training in child protection and are equipped to mentor and work alongside them, assessing levels of risk at all times.
Additional tools and resources
Material on this page is primarily taken from:
- Viva, Creating Safe Environments for Children
- Keeping Children Safe, Children’s Participation in Child Protection
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is another programme area where child-led involvement can be particularly effective. For resources on this see:
Additional tools and resources are available here