National legislative and policy frameworks are a key component of any child protection system. The data presented here concern EU Member States’ frameworks.
An integrated child protection system requires a national legislative framework that creates a safe environment for children. It needs to ensure respect, protection and fulfilment of the rights of the child according to the principles and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). In addition to developing overarching children’s rights statutes, it is essential that all relevant sector-specific laws, such as those on education, health and justice, reflect the UN principles and standards.
Several Member States, such as Estonia, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and Slovakia are revising, or have recently revised or restructured, their child protection systems, including the legislative frameworks. In Malta, for instance, this led to the 2014 adoption of a Child Protection Act.
More information on national legal instruments can be found below
Eighteen EU Member States have a key legal instrument devoted to child protection, which addresses identification, referral and assessment of child victims of violence, abuse and neglect. These instruments contain provisions on the treatment of children deprived of parental care that fall under the protection of the state.
The United Kingdom does not have a common legal instrument. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each developed their own related legislation. In Spain, the autonomous regions have each elaborated their own laws. In Belgium, the federal states have done the same.
German and Austrian federal law addresses child protection responsibilities, setting forth the general framework and the key principles for drafting state and regional laws.
Source: FRA, 2014
A comprehensive national strategy or national action plan for children that builds on the framework of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child is another key component of an integrated child protection system.
A comprehensive national policy covers sector-specific national action plans and policies setting out specific goals, targeted implementation measures and allocation of financial and human resources.
Only 13 Member States have a specific national policy or strategy on child protection. Four Member States (Croatia, France, Italy and Romania) have a draft national policy in the adoption process. In some Member States without a national policy, such as Greece, the government has announced that it is prioritising the development of a comprehensive child protection policy.
Some Member States have action plans at local/regional level. Denmark, for example, lacks a national policy; municipal authorities with child protection responsibilities are charged with developing policies locally.
In some Member States with decentralised systems, such as Finland or the Netherlands, local, regional and national policies co-exist.
In some federal Member States, like Germany and Belgium, policies are developed at country-community level. In Austria’s federal government developed a national policy targeting children rights.
Child and Youth Policy Programme (Lapsi- ja nuorisopolitiikan kehittämisohjelma 2012-2015 / Barn- och ungdomspolitiska utvecklingsprogrammet 2012–2015)
National Development Plan for Social Welfare and Health Care (Sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon kansallinen kehittämisohjelma / Det nationella utvecklingsprogrammet för social- och hälsovårdenCare, Kaste 2012–2015); it covers families and children support services
Child Welfare Programme 2013–2018 (Lietuvos Respublikos Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministro įsakymas ‘Dėl vaiko gerovės 2013–2018 metų programos patvirtinimo‘)
National Programme on Prevention of Violence Against Children and for Assistance to Children 2011–2015 (Lietuvos Respublikos Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministro įsakymas ‘Dėl nacionalinės smurto prieš vaikus prevencijos ir pagalbos vaikams 2011–2015 metų programos patvirtinimo’)
Guidelines of the State Family Policy 2011–2017 (Ģimenes valsts politikas pamatnostādnes 2011.–2017.gadam)
National Action Plan for Children for 2013–2017 (Národný akčný plán pre deti na roky 2013– 2017)
National Strategy to Protect Children against Violence (Národná stratégia na ochranu detí pred násilím)
National, regional and local authorities share child protection responsibilities. Non-state, private and community actors also play important roles. Data in this section cover national, regional and local authorities with child protection responsibilities, the coordinating authority at national level and service providers.
National governments have the responsibility, deriving from international, European and national law, to promote, ensure and protect child rights within its jurisdiction, regardless of state structure.
With the exception of Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta child protection responsibilities are decentralised at varying levels. Sweden, for example, decentralises the operation of its child protection system but uses national law to supervise and regulate it.
Some Member States assign responsibilities to regional-provincial authorities (Austria, Croatia and France), others to local-municipal authorities (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).
In Belgium, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, child protection responsibility lies with its federal states, autonomous communities or other delineated regions. At this regional level, however, municipal authorities bear primary responsibility for child protection.
In nine Member States (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) regional and local authorities share responsibilities.
Following a reform in the Netherlands, as of 1 January 2015, responsibility lies solely with local authorities.
To ensure effective integrated child protection systems, particular attention must be paid to cross-sectoral coordination between all relevant government actors and between state and non-state actors.
A national unit assigned to coordinate responsibilities promotes and ensures coordination among central government departments, different provinces and regions, central and other levels of government, government, civil society and the private sector providers. It also contributes to effective implementation of laws and policies. In decentralised systems the need for cooperation and coordination is even more vital.
In 10 Member States (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia and Spain) coordination responsibilities, including monitoring, lie with the ministry that primarily holds responsibility for child protection. Within the ministry, a specific department-secretariat is typically developed for this purpose.
Thirteen Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden) established a distinct authority to coordinate and often monitor implementation of national policy and legislation.
In the United Kingdom, coordination at national level is lacking. Specialised departments within the lead ministry in each individual region are established, assigned with coordination duties.
The government is obliged to develop appropriate child protection, social and family support services aiming to prevent all forms of violence against children and to protect, rehabilitate and socially reintegrate child victims.
Within decentralised systems, local authorities typically implement policy, acting as service provider. In any decentralisation process, the government retains clear responsibility and capacity for ensuring that obligations of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child are respected.
In at least 18 Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) the national legal framework allows for subcontracting and/or outsourcing alternative care services to private-commercial institutions and companies.
In some Member States such as Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, private–commercial institutions have an important role as service provider running a big share of alternative care settings.
In other Members States, such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Lithuania, despite the existing legal provisions, in practise, up to now, alternative care services are subcontracted and/or outsourced only to non-profit institutions.
To ensure proper implementation and realisation of children’s rights, Member States need to allocate sufficient financial and human resources to child protection systems. Resource shortages hurt the overall performance of child protection systems, undermining their quality and sustainability.
The data here focus on the budget allocated to child protection.
In decentralised systems, both the national, regional and local budget finance child protection. In ensuring allocation of adequate resources, it is important to identify the proportion of national and other budgets allocated to children, both directly and indirectly.
In most Member States the budget allocated to child protection is not visible, and there is no specific budget line allocated to child protection expenditures.
Only eight Member States (Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) allocate a specific budget item in their annual state budget to child protection.
In many Member States (for example in the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Spain), there are multiple budget items covering different expenditures connected to child protection, instead of a specific budget chapter or item encompassing all connected expenses.
More often, the budget allocated to child protection is included in the overall expenditure for social policy and social welfare, as for example in Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania. However, the type of expenditure related to child protection that are listed under social expenditures vary among Member States. They typically include child allowances or the budget allocated to the responsible child protection authority, but in principle do not cover expenditures that fall under the scope of other ministries.
The presence of a sufficient number of qualified and well trained professionals is vital to ensuring the adequate protection and effective realisation of children rights.
In most EU Member States, the qualification requirements of professionals and personnel working in child protection services are inscribed in the legislative and regulatory framework and are part of the quality elements of the system.
In some Member States, accreditation and licencing procedures exist to ensure compliance with the existing requirements and to promote and ensure the availability of qualified personnel. Such procedures often include checking the compliance with educational qualifications and training requirements, as well as vetting procedures.
Certification and accreditation procedures vary within Member States. Some Member States (Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Spain and Sweden) require proof of an accredited diploma in social work as well as vetting, but no specific training. As a rule, in these cases there are no provisions requiring review.
Only five Member States (France, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom) have a certification procedure for social workers that includes training requirements. Certified social workers have to complete a required number of training hours within a given timeline (varying from one to three years).
In other Member States (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia), no certification or accreditation procedures exist for social workers. There are, however, accreditation provisions requiring mandatory training for professionals working in specific positions, such as child protection officers, guardians, social assistants, family assistants and child carers.
In Hungary, for example, there is a compulsory six-year vocational training for social, child welfare and child protection personnel who provide personal care (e.g. employees who work directly with children/families). In the Czech Republic, child protection workers, social workers and teachers are obliged to participate in trainings for a specific number of hours per year, but the content of these trainings is not specified.
In Estonia, the new child act currently under discussion in the Parliament provides for certification and training requirements of all professionals.
Vetting refers to the procedures through which child protection authorities ensure that those seeking to work regularly with children have not been convicted of criminal acts that could endanger a child’s wellbeing and safety, such as acts of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse of children.
More information on EU Member States' provisions can be found below.
More information on EU Member States' provisions can be found below.
In all Member States there are requirements for the vetting of persons that are foster parents candidates. However, in at least four Member States (Austria, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia) there are no particular mandatory provisions for the frequency of reviews.
All Member States have requirements for the vetting of persons that are foster parents candidates upon initial selection. Provisions setting a specific timeline for the frequency of reviews were, however, only identified in seven Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Romania and the United Kingdom).
When such provisions are in place, requirements vary significantly. In Belgium (French community) for example, reviews should take place every five years. In France and Romania, vetting is part of the licensing process of foster parents; these licenses must be renewed every five years in France and every three years in Romania. In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, foster parents should be assessed on an annual basis and a new certificate of good conduct may be requested. In Ireland, general provisions require that the police (Garda Síochána) clearance certificates should be renewed every three to five years.
In some Member States (such as Hungary and Poland), the law establishes the frequency of reviews of the health status and the psychological suitability of foster parents, but there are no provisions requiring any checks of criminal records.
In other Member States, as in Greece for example, there are general provisions for initial requirements (including clean criminal records) to be applied throughout the placement period; there are, however, no specific provisions in place stipulating the frequency of and the procedure for reviews.
In eight EU Member States (Belgium (applicable to the French community), Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Romania and the United Kingdom), there are specific provisions for the frequency of reviews and checks following an initial vetting. In Romania and Latvia for example, the personnel in residential facilities should be subjected to an annual vetting; in Latvia, the personnel should also be assessed annually. In Bulgaria, the assessment, including vetting, of personnel in such facilities should take place every three years.
In integrated child protection systems, the emphasis should be on primary prevention and the development of generic services for children and families. However, the identification, reporting and referral procedures of children in need of protection are also of paramount importance. Procedures and methods of assessment by competent authorities of the reporting of cases should reflect the principle of the best interests of the child and seek to take into consideration children’s views.
The data presented include information on professionals' obligations to report cases falling under the scope of child protection systems, and on the rights of children in alternative care to issue complaints against residential care facility and personnel.
Member States should develop identification, reporting and referral mechanisms for cases of children in need of protection. Existing mechanisms should be confidential, well publicised and accessible by professionals and civilians but also by children themselves and their representatives.
This map should be read together with the map on specific legal obligations for civilians to report cases.
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In 15 Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) reporting obligations are in place for all professionals.
In 10 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal and Slovakia) existing obligations only address certain professional groups such as social workers or teachers.
In Germany, Malta and the Netherlands, no reporting obligations were in place in March 2014. In Malta, however, the new draft Child Protection Act (Out of Home Care), introduces the obligation of mandatory reporting for all professionals and volunteers.
In many Member States, the anonymity of reporting professionals is not always guaranteed, as in Denmark, Greece and Lithuania, for example. This lack of anonymity may sometimes discourage professionals from reporting a case of a presumed victim.
In integrated child protection systems, the emphasis should be on primary prevention and the development of generic services for children and families. The identification, reporting and referral procedures of children in need of protection are therefore also of importance for civilians.
This map should be read together with the map on provisions on professionals' legal obligation to report cases.
In 15 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden), there are provisions setting forth specific obligations for civilians to report cases of child abuse, neglect and/or exploitation, falling under the scope of national child protection systems.
In many Member States without specific provisions, general provisions on the obligation for all citizens to report a criminal act under national law apply. In such cases, however, there is no particular obligation to report a child at risk or presumed cases of abuse.
Children placed in alternative care are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. All services and institutions or facilities responsible for the care and protection of children should inform children about their rights, including their right to issue complaints against the alternative care personnel. Alternative care providers should therefore develop accessible, confidential and child-friendly reporting procedures.
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In 11 EU Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom), there are specific provisions on the rights of children in alternative care to issue complaints.
When no particular provisions are in place, general provisions establishing the rights of children to report violations of their rights also apply to children in placement.
In addition to informing children about their rights, including their right to issue complaints against alternative care personnel, all services and institutions or facilities responsible for the care and protection of children should establish complaint mechanisms. Alternative care providers should therefore develop accessible, confidential and child-friendly reporting procedures.
The process of reference and assessment of reported cases should involve a participatory, multi-disciplinary assessment of the short and long-term needs of the child. The views of the child as well of those of the care giver and family should be taken into consideration.
In six EU Member States (Finland, Greece, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the United Kingdom), no provisions were identified on the multidisciplinary assessment of child protection cases. All other Member States do have specific provisions, but only in seven of them (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania and Romania) do these provisions have statutory value.
In some Member States, however, as for example in the Netherlands, although there is no mandatory provision, a multidisciplinary team of professionals de facto carries out the assessment. Both the Advice and Report Centres for Child Abuse (Advies- en Meldpunten Kindermishandeling) and the Child Care and Protection Board (Raad voor Kinderbescherming), which are responsible for assessing cases of potential abuse and deciding on child protection measures, have multidisciplinary teams.
Other Member States have developed multidisciplinary teams in the form of panels or other advisory bodies within the system and assigned assessment responsibilities, with cooperation protocols subsequently put in place. In Belgium for example, a protocol of cooperation has been signed between the Youth Care Services and the Birth and Childhood Office (Office de la Naissance et de l’enfance (ONE)), to facilitate cooperation between youth care workers and ONE social-medical workers or doctors.
The map presents data on existing provisions on the right of the child to be heard in placement decisions. These include provisions applying in cases of voluntary placement, where there are administrative procedures, and forced placement (without the parents’ consent), and where competent judicial authorities usually take relevant decisions.
Different provisions exist regarding the right of the child to be heard in the judicial or administrative procedures on placement, and those on establishing the requirement to take into consideration the child’s views in the development of an individual care plan. The latter are very often optional, which is to say that they have no statutory power and are left to the discretion of the social workers/case workers.
This map should be read together with the map on provisions requiring multidisciplinary assessment of child protection cases.
In 11 Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania) there are provisions introducing age requirements, setting clear obligations for the respective authorities to listen to children above a certain age. In these Member States, the realisation of the rights of children younger than the age established by law largely depends on the respective authorities. This is also the case when no age requirements are in place, and it is up to the respective authorities to assess the maturity and the evolving capacities of the child.
The level of participation of the child also differs between Member States. In at least four Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Romania), existing provisions require that the consent or statement of non-opposition of children above a certain age (14 or 15 years old) should be obtained in placement decisions. Exceptions are foreseen only in grave situations.
An effective accountability mechanism should include data collection and analysis, indicator construction, monitoring and evaluation, and support for independent human rights institutions.
In most EU Member States monitoring responsibilities are assigned to different national, regional and local authorities.
The role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and/or ombudspersons is vital in independently monitoring a state’s compliance with and progress towards the implementation of children’s rights and child protection laws and policies.
Independent human rights institutions complement effective government monitoring structures and accountability mechanisms.
In all Member States, provisions regarding foster care, including standards, are established by law. Provisions on the number of children in one foster family aim to ensure the quality of care for children and facilitate the monitoring of foster parents.
Foster parents have to undergo training provided by the responsible authority and/or the service foster care agency, although in most states training requirements do not apply when the foster parents are relatives. The length and content of the training varies significantly both within and between states.
Only half of the EU Member States have legal provisions regulating the maximum number of children to be placed in one foster family.
When provisions exist, they are often related to the physical and mental health of the child, the number of biological children in the family and the number of siblings.
In Croatia, for example one foster family can accommodate three children, although exceptions are made in cases of siblings for instance. Only one child per foster family can have a severe disability.
A one person household can only accommodate two children, or one child with a disability. In Finland, the maximum number of children in one foster family is four, including children who already live in the household. Exceptions are foreseen in cases of siblings.
Even when provisions exist, responsible authorities may make exceptions. In France for example, the president of the Departmental Council (Conseil général) may allow foster parents to accommodate more children than are allowed by law (up to three children), if there are specific needs and if the hosting conditions are appropriate.
In some Member States such as Germany and Romania, where no such provisions exist, the number of children should be decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account existing criteria and other requirements. Very often, general provisions exist linking the maximum number of children to aspects such as: the availability of space, the physical and mental ability of the child and his/her needs, the number of adult carers in a foster family and the number of biological children living in the house.
In practice, in many Member States without specific provisions it is up to the responsible authority or social professionals assessing the capacity of a foster family and/or being responsible for the individual child to decide.
Monitoring obligations are regulated by law in the vast majority of Member States. Developing standards is a pre-requirement for the effective monitoring of child protection services and institutions.
The compliance of residential facilities with existing standards is an important element of the monitoring process. Standards on residential care include provisions on management (data collection, self-monitoring), human resources (number of staff, qualification of staff), living conditions (premises and safety), number of children accommodated and practices and operational policies.
(✔) Provisions exist at national level regulating some aspects of the operational framework of residential care facilities. Detailed standards are developed at regional level.
✔* Provisions exist at national level setting up general standards of the operational framework of residential care facilities. Detailed quality standards are developed by national monitoring authorities in the shape of recommendations and guidance with no statutory status.
In EU Member States with a federal or autonomous regional structure, such as Austria, Belgium, Germany and Spain, standards are elaborated at state-community-regional level. Some of these states, such as Austria, nevertheless, acknowledge the need for a unitary approach and also provide general provisions and guidance at national level, while others like Spain have developed non-binding national quality standards.
In some Member States, existing quality standards are applicable only in certain types of facilities and institutions, as for example in the Czech Republic and Italy.
In Greece and Slovakia, where no standards exist, responsible authorities are taking steps to develop them.
Child rights impact assessment is a tool predicting the impact of any proposed law, policy or budgetary allocation, which affects children and the enjoyment of their rights. Child impact assessment needs to be built into government at all levels and as early as possible in the development of policies and laws.
Only six EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom) have specific provisions requiring that a child rights impact assessment takes place when developing laws and policies, and taking administrative decisions regarding children. Some Members States, such as Spain, are moving towards the introduction of such requirements.
The absence of any such requirements does not necessarily mean that no child rights impact assessment is ever conducted. In many Member States, the child rights impact assessment is part of the human rights or social impact assessment, as for example in Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. Some of them (Denmark and Estonia) specifically list child rights, while others (the Czech Republic and Poland) do not specifically reference child rights but list children with other vulnerable groups.
In some Member States, such as Ireland, the mandate of the ombudsperson for children includes the requirements of conducting a child rights impact assessment whenever a new law or policy is developed and drawing attention to possible impacts. However, whether this is done systematically and whether it takes place for all policies and laws that directly or indirectly affect children depends on the financial and human resources allocated to the ombudsperson’s offices.
Child participation should be envisaged through direct contact with children and not only be mediated through non-governmental organisations and human rights institutions (thus, indirectly).
The right of children to be heard on “matters that affect them” implies that the views of particular groups of children on particular issues should be ascertained, as for example of children who have experienced the judicial system on proposals for legislative reform in that area, or of migrant children on migration law and policy. Children should participate meaningfully in the planning, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes for child protection.
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The process of direct consultation with children and families when developing or assessing the impact of laws and policies was only identified in 10 EU Member States (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In others (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania), consultation is carried out indirectly through formal structures and/or representatives such as children’s councils or parental associations.
In many EU Member States (Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Lithuania and Sweden), national child ombudsperson’s offices and child rights commissioners have established consultation practises to promote the participation of children in their daily work. Children are consulted on various issues related to their rights, including child protection. Consultation takes place either ad hoc, involving a specific group of children or, more often, through formal structures (such as children’s panels).
In some Member States such as France and Romania, there are general provisions concerning the consultation of children and families in their capacity as beneficiaries, which are part of the evaluation process of social services and programmes.
In Cyprus, although the consultation of children and families is not embedded in the development of laws and policies, children are consulted for the appointment of the Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights. In some other Member States such as Germany, France and Estonia, some ad hoc practises were identified.
Child protection has historically focused on particular issues or on specific groups of vulnerable children. Although this approach can serve the needs of a targeted group, it also has important limitations. Children may have multiple child protection problems. Fragmented child protection responses may deal with a single problem but fail to provide a comprehensive solution for the diverse needs of children. Focusing on selected issues alone, or on particular groups of children, is neither sustainable nor effective.
An integrated child protection system places the child at the system’s centre and endorses and promotes the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It ensures that all essential actors and systems – education, health, welfare, justice, civil society, community and family – work in concert to prevent abuse, exploitation, neglect and other forms of violence against children and to protect and assist children in these situations.
The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children recommends that “all States develop a multi-faceted and systematic framework in response to violence against children which is integrated into national planning processes.” Such an integrated, systemic approach to child protection benefits all children. It can respond to a variety of situations an individual child might encounter.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) defines a child protection system as: “the set of laws, policies, regulations and services needed across all social sectors – especially social welfare, education, health, security and justice – to support prevention and response to protection-related risks. These systems are part of social protection, and extend beyond it […]. Responsibilities are often spread across government agencies, with services delivered by local authorities, non-State providers, and community groups, making coordination between sectors and levels, including routine referral systems, a necessary component of effective child protection systems.”
EU Member States are obligated to protect children from all forms of violence. They should, therefore, undertake the appropriate legislative, administrative, social, and educational measures to effectively protect children. This obligation derives from international and European human rights legal documents, including particularly the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Articles 3 and 19 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in Article 24.
The European Commission Communication 'An EU Agenda for the rights of the child', adopted in 2011, aims to step up efforts to protect and promote child’s rights and to ensure they are effective in practice. While implementing this EU agenda, EU legislation has evolved both to reflect the UN Convention’s and the Charter’s provisions and language on the rights of the child and to reiterate, as a primary consideration, the principle of the child’s best interests.
The 'EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016' reflected the importance of developing EU guidance on integrated child protection systems. It calls on Member States to strengthen child protection systems, underlining that "comprehensive child-sensitive protection systems that ensure interagency and multidisciplinary coordination are key in catering to diverse needs of diverse groups of children". The 2012 7th European Forum on the Rights of the Child looked at the role of such systems across a range of situations that children encounter. At the 8th forum the following year, the Commission announced that in 2014 it would develop guidance for integrated child protection systems.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its 2011 General Comment 13 on Article 19: 'The right of the child to freedom of all forms of violence', provides authoritative guidance on:
An integrated child protection system that puts emphasis on prevention must adopt a child rights, not a welfare, approach. This requires holistic implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. General Comment 5 (2003) provides guidance to States on the measures required to effectively implement the convention.
The Council of Europe, in line with the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and of the UN’s 'Study on Violence against Children', issued guidelines to promote the development and implementation of a holistic national framework to safeguard the rights of the child and to eradicate violence against children. The Council of Europe 'Policy guidelines on integrated national strategies for the protection of children from violence' (2009) propose a multidisciplinary and systematic national framework to prevent and respond to all acts of violence against children.