A woman wearing a blue vest is standing in a circle with young children all around her. They are playing a game where they put there right hand into the circle.
UNICEF and Plan International have set up a tent called the “Happiness Plan” which is a child-friendly space at the Binational Border Service Centre in Tumbes, on Peru’s northern border with Ecuador. The tent is filled with board games, crayons and books.

Poll: Child friendly practice

In previous course steps, we have considered how many children are reluctant to accept our support, especially if they think they will not be treated in a child friendly manner, or be trusted or cared for. The concern is that children then place themselves in dangerous circumstances and at greater risk of exploitation. So, for example, it is not just a matter of working through the steps of case management that is imporant, but the way in which we fulfill them.

Voting in the poll has now closed. Read further for Chrissie’s analysis of the poll results.

From the five scenarios below you were asked to choose two that you think most represent examples of best child friendly practice:

  1. A 10 year old boy has crossed a border with a group of people who are unrelated to him. He is crying and tries to explain to a frontline worker that the man he has been travelling with is not a relation and has been cruel to him. The worker tries to comfort the child and stop him crying. They give the child toys to play with. But then they hand him back to the man he has been speaking about, while telling the child everything will be all right.

  2. An unaccompanied 17 year old boy has just experienced a dangerous sea crossing. After landing, the official sent to take his details makes the boy wait for almost 7 hours before speaking with him. The boy sits in a room that is warm and nicely decorated. He is given food and a warm drink by a volunteer. The official offers the boy a leaflet that explains the asylum seeking process in the country. The official is quite abrupt and does not listen carefully to what the boy is saying. The official tells the boy he will be sent to a transit centre.

  3. An unaccompanied girl aged 14 is waiting to complete a refugee registration process and a best interests determination assessment. While she is waiting, she is taken to a warm, colourful room, with lots of paintings and posters on the walls. She is asked if she would like to join in any of the activities that three members of staff are carefully organising with the children. The staff are making sure they interact with the children in an age appropriate manner. The activities provide the young girl an opportunity to interact with other children. She can choose from a range of activities including drawing, playing games, reading and playing a musical instrument.

  4. A separated girl aged 10 is travelling with an uncle. The child wants to be reunified with her grandmother, who she thinks is living in a nearby refugee camp. The case worker carefully reassures the child they will do everything they can to trace the grandmother as quickly as possible. However, the case worker then only speaks with the uncle. The uncle does not want the child to go and stay with the grandmother. When the child is told by the case worker that she must respect the wishes of her elders and stay with her uncle, although she is visibly upset, no one offers her any comfort or explains why this decision has been reached.

  5. A 15 years old boy has been rescued from a sinking boat out in the middle of the ocean. When he is taken on board a rescue boat, he is provided a dry set of clothes and given a hot drink and something to eat. One of the officials on board sits with the boy and asks him if he is all right and if there is anything else she can get him. The official explains to the boy that she needs to ask him some questions. The boy indicates that he does not speak the same language and does not understand. The official looks through her bag and brings out a set of information sheets in different languages. She shows them to the boy and he takes the one he can read in his own language. The official then indicates she will come back later when there is a interpreter with her. The official makes sure that other staff on the boat are aware of the nationality of the young boy and finds a volunteer who will take responsibility to carefully look after him.

Results

Child (age) % of votes
10 year old boy 3%
17 year old boy 1%
14 year old girl 98%
10 year old girl 2%
15 year old boy 97%

Chrissie’s analysis of the poll results

Thank you to everyone who took part in this poll. As you will see from the results, there was overwhelming agreement that scenarios 3 and 5 best represented examples of best child friendly practice. A great result as it means we have a shared understanding of this topic.

The results of the poll certainly confirms the ideas and information we have shared in the course this week. You have overwhelmingly chosen scenarios in which support is being offered to children so they can feel supported, trusted and cared for. You have also highlighted scenarios in which we can see a child friendly approach being utilised. The case studies of 3 and 5 provide us with example of practices that hopefully mean children will be more accepting of our services and thus help prevent their running into situations of risk and exploitation.

Scenarios 3 and 5 also take into consideration the principles we have also discussed during the course. For example, keeping children informed by providing them with age appropriate information. Making sure we use interpreters and communicate in a child’s own language so they fully understand and can participate in decision making and providing children with a space that feels safe and child-friendly.

Whereas in scenarios 1 and 2 and 4 we do not see the principles of good practice we have been discussing during the course. If we recall, these included the principles of do no harm, always determining the best interests of a child, making sure we safeguard children, and gaining informed consent. In scenarios 1 and 4, we certainly don’t see the children’s wishes being taken into account or any real attempt to listen to them. In all three of these scenarios we don’t find a child friendly approach from any of the workers the children meet. All situations that children on the move have told us can result in their wanting to keep moving and possibly placing themselves in danger.

Once again many thanks for taking the time to participate in the poll and it has been very interesting reading your reactions.

Thank you

If you have any further questions about the survey poll, please contact the International Team at CELCIS. This survey poll is being undertaken by CELCIS at The University of Strathclyde and all response data is managed in accordance with the University of Strathclyde’s terms and conditions governing data collection and use which can be viewed here

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

University of Strathclyde