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Children on the Move

image of Children on the Move
Millions of children are on the move, both within and between countries, with or without their parents. The conditions under which movement takes place are often treacherous, putting migrant children, especially unaccompanied and separated children, at an increased risk of economic or sexual exploitation, abuse, neglect and violence. Policy responses to protect and support these migrant children are often fragmented and inconsistent and while children on the move have become a recognised part of today's global and mixed migration flows they are still largely invisible in debates on both child protection and migration.

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Childrens migration: Towards a multidimensional child protection perspective

In the field of migration, child migrants occupy a mixed space, generally viewed as acted upon, either as victims, passive followers or ‘left behind.‘ Despite growing evidence that recognizes children’s evolving capacities, resilience and agency, children’s independent movements are generally viewed as an anomaly. Programmes and policies developed on this assumption that aims to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation in the context of migration risk putting children at harm and infringing on their rights. The intended protective role of international standards, along with some experiences in programme implementation, are also discussed. The paper cautions against the rigid classification of child migrants into programmatically convenient categories as they move in and out of them. Drawing on a range of literature, programming experience and available evidence, this paper seeks to advance a child protection perspective to children’s migration throughout the whole cycle of migration, from the place of origin, to transit and destination, and, in all contexts, taking into consideration the need to adopt a multilevel, interdependent, multidisciplinary and evidence-based approach to the phenomenon. Children’s migration cannot be delinked from wider socioeconomic, political and historical factors. Factors at community level, including the impact of ongoing social and economic changes, affect migration, including that of children. The household also plays a significant role in determining who migrates and under what circumstances. Finally, it is necessary to understand the individual characteristics and interests of the child and his or her interactions and interdependencies with the household, as well as his or her own aspirations and motivations, as this helps bring clarity as to who migrates and for what reasons. Consideration of the dynamics among all these factors, including the interrelationships and interdependencies among the categories explored, further suggests how they shape and affect children’s migration and the experiences migrant children have.

English

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