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Combating violence against children and ensuring child protection

Thematic area 3 of the EU strategy on the Rights of the Child EU actions that help children grow free from violence

EU strategy on the Rights of the Child - pillar 3

Protecting children from violence

Children can be victims, witnesses, as well as perpetrators of violence, starting from their own homes, in school, in leisure and recreational activities, in the justice system, offline as well as online. Socially or culturally accepted forms of violence against children constitute deeply entrenched barriers in the EU, where to date only 23 EU countries have completely prohibited corporal punishment. Experiencing violence in childhood may have long-life consequences.

National child protection systems are put in place to protect children from violence. Strengthening child protection systems was the main topic of the 2015 European forum on the rights of the child where ten principles for integrated child protection systems were discussed.

The 116 000 and 116 111 hotlines are a key part of the child protection systems.

Safeguarding children is crucial for organisations working for and with children. They should be guided by child protection policies and have reporting mechanisms in place. This is requested under the CERV funding.

EU actions that help children grow free from violence

Under the new EU Strategy on the rights of the child, the Commission committed to:

  • put forward a legislative proposal to combat gender-based violence against women and domestic violence, while supporting the finalisation of the EU’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence;
  • table a recommendation on the prevention of harmful practices against women and girls, including female genital mutilation;
  • present an initiative aimed at supporting the development and strengthening of integrated child protection systems, which will encourage all relevant authorities and services to better work together, in a system that puts the child at the centre;
  • support the exchange of good practices on ending non-vital surgery and medical intervention on intersex infants and adolescents to make them fit the typical definition of male or female without their or their parents’ fully informed consent (intersex genital mutilation).

Missing children and child alert mechanisms

About the 116 000 missing children hotline

The 116 000 hotline has been designed to report missing children and provide social support services for children and families when a child goes missing.

The 116 000 hotline is now operational in all 27 EU countries.

More information about 116 000 hotlines in Europe

Report: State of implementation of 116 000 hotline in EU countries

Child alert mechanisms

Child alert mechanisms aim to alert the public in cases of child abduction and where the life of a child is at risk. The child alert mechanism alerts the public by disseminating information in the hours after the disappearance of a child. Child alert systems are used in the event of worrying disappearances and criminal abduction. The system uses electronic means of communication such as e-mails, text messages, electronic signs on motorways, information on radio and television.

Currently, a child alert system is available in 16 EU countries:

Belgium             Bulgaria
Cyprus           Czech Republic
France           Germany  
Greece            Ireland 
Italy           Luxemburg
The Netherlands             Poland
Portugal            Romania
Slovakia             Spain