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Protect my future: The links between child protection and employment and growth

In the post-2015 development agenda

Economic growth has the potential – particularly in the developing world but in developed countries too – to free children from the worst forms of exploitation and violence, strengthen the reach and effectiveness of child protection services, and increase opportunities for human capital formation later in life. Economic growth could, in turn, be enhanced by improvements in child protection, as gaps in children’s education, nutrition, health and psychosocial development resulting from child protection deficits severely diminish individuals’ later productive capacities as adults, while increasing the subsequent cost of social services. At the same time, however, we recognise that economic growth alone is an insufficient indicator of children’s well-being, particularly when such growth occurs without equitable and inclusive social development for children. In periods of rapid growth and development in particular, new opportunities may bring new threats to children’s protection or exacerbate existing threats – a point that is far too often overlooked in discussions of pro-poor growth.

This report therefore emphasises the value of integrating a life cycle approach into the conceptualisation of inclusive growth and employment whereby childhood is considered as a time for learning and development, laying the foundations for future social and economic well-being. Children need to be supported during these critical periods of learning and development and protected from labour pressures, violence, neglect, and exploitation, within the home and in all other areas of their lives. In particular, this means that policymakers must first and foremost ensure that economic growth results in children becoming more safe rather than less safe, by guarding against risk factors associated with rapid economic growth (including migration, increased demand for cheap labour, growing urbanisation and the potential for increased exploitation of children and communities) that contribute to heightened child protection vulnerabilities. Policymakers must also carefully coordinate national business and employment strategies to minimise negative impacts on children’s well-being, while ensuring that young people have access to decent work (as called for by MDG 1b)