Child Protection ©

Mat Wright

Child Protection means protecting children from abuse. This could be:

  • physical abuse - causing injury or suffering to a child;
  • emotional abuse - persistent emotional ill treatment of a child;
  • sexual abuse - involvement of a child in sexual activity, including access to pornography;
  • neglect - failure to meet a child's basic physical and emotional needs.

Abuse happens to children of all ages, from any country, social background or ethnic group. It can take place in many forms and anywhere - the family, community, organizations or on the Internet. Although we commonly think of adults as those who abuse children, children can also be perpetrators. 

The British Council uses the definition of abuse commonly used by the World Health Organization:

‘Child Abuse’ or ‘maltreatment’ constitutes all forms of physical and /or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.’ 

A child is defined as anyone under 18 years old irrespective of the age of majority in the country where the child is, or their home country.

Although the national law in the country we are working in may have a different age at which a child is considered an adult, or have a different age at which a child can give consent or is responsible, we use the definition of a child according to UK and international law. This is because we are a UK organization working internationally. This comes from the UK Children Act, 1989 and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

The British Council has a zero tolerance policy for abuse of children and has comprehensive standards and procedures for its staff. 


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