Child protection

Child protection is a key strand of our work. We identify children at risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect, and do whatever it takes to protect them. We work to protect children wherever they are vulnerable - whether they're living on the streets, in refugee camps, or in institutions.

child protection save the childrenAmina, 12, at her school, built by Save the Children. She lives in a camp for people forced from their homes in Puntland, Somalia. “There have been assaults against children in the camp,” she says, “but I feel safe at school."

Our child protection teams helped 383,000 children stay safe in 2015.

We protected 350,000 children in 2014.

Every child should grow up in a safe, supportive family environment, yet right now millions are not so lucky.

Many survive on the streets, in institutions or on the move as refugees. Others live in homes that are unsafe, or are at risk of exploitation and abuse in their communities.

Our child protection teams are working hard to keep children safe around the world. We campaign against child labour and help working children get back to school. We tackle exploitation and trafficking, and we raise awareness of the risks.

In emergencies, we set up safe spaces to help children who have been traumatised by their experiences. We reunite families separated by war or disaster. And we help protect children who are at risk of recruitment into armed groups.

As well as supporting vulnerable children directly, we’re working with governments around the world to develop child protection systems and train social workers.

How big is the problem?

It is estimated that worldwide:

  • 150 million children are engaged in child labour
  • 1 in 4 women aged between 20 and 24 were child brides
  • there are 250,000 child soldiers 
  • 13 million children are orphans, having lost both parents.

Grace a Dieu's* story

child protection, child soldier, save the children

Grace a Dieu* lives in the Central African Republic. When he was 15 he was forced to join an armed group that had killed his father, in order to support his family.

"Every morning we had to work out hard," he said. "They wanted to make us mean, unforgiving. When we fought it was us, the children, who were sent to the frontline. I saw lots of things, a lot of atrocities."

Thanks to the intervention of NGOs, Grace a Dieu and many other children managed to leave the groups. He eventually returned to his hometown where our child protection team provided him with emotional and psychosocial support.

Child refugees without protection

Yasmeen Abdallad, Child Protection Manager for Save the Children in Iraq speaks from Khazair Transit Camp, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, about our child protection response to the huge numbers of Iraqi children who have been forced to flee their homes.

What we're doing to protect children

Indonesia: More than 500,000 children in Indonesia are growing up in orphanages, yet 90% of them have at least one parent still living. Our Families First programme reconnects these children with their families.

South Sudan: There are 9,000 children in South Sudan, and 31,000 in neighbouring countries, who have been separated from their families. We lead a national programme of family tracing and reunification.

Philippines: Corporal punishment affects millions of children in the Philippines, impacting their physical and emotional wellbeing. We lobby for changes in the law, raise public awareness and promote positive parenting.

Ethiopia: Alongside the government and local NGOs, we're teaching women and girls' community groups about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) and training health workers to help girls who are affected.

Sierra Leone: We are protecting vulnerable children and making sure that children whose parents have died from Ebola are reunited with extended family or find appropriate care.

China: Our national child protection programme in China has made impressive gains over the last 12 years, helping to ensure that children are protected at home and at school.

Democractic Republic of Congo: We've reached thousands of vulnerable children by training local community leaders to prevent and respond to exploitation and abuse of children.

Child refugee crisis: We are urging the government to offer a home to 3,000 children who have arrived in Europe alone and are not able to be reunited with their families. We also provide psychosocial support for child refugees and those in the countries that they are fleeing, such as Syria.

Protecting children affected by conflict: At the Global Summit to End Violence in Conflict, we handed over a petition asking for action to be taken so that children in conflict can be better protected.



Updated March 2017.