This Policy recognizes a child as a person below the age of 18. In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1992 Fourth Republic Constitution of Ghana (article 28) and the Children’s Act 1998, (Act 560) (section 1). This policy also takes into account how a child is defined in the Ghanaian context in relation to the family and concept of childhood. Thus, a child is one who is still largely dependent on an adult for the necessaries of life.
Childhood is a social construct. It is a period when a person is under the authority, control and care of some persons considered as adults in society. Childhood may include one or several of the following characteristics: the period before puberty rites or rites of passage; when a person is not married; a period in school, particularly if fees are being paid by an adult; a period of learning a trade; a period when decisions are made for a young person; a period when a young person is living under the same roof as their parents. The characteristics cited are not exhaustive; they present some considerations related to the concept of childhood. These are not stand-alone characteristics but should be considered as a combination of two or more.
Child and Family Welfare System
Child and Family Welfare System: Child and Family Welfare System comprise of laws and policies, programmes, services, practices and structures designed to promote the well being of children by ensuring safety and protection from harm; achieving permanency and strengthening families to care for their children successfully. This Policy understands that a child is an integral part of the family, as such, a child’s welfare cannot be separated from that of the family. This Policy is concerned with both the ‘formal’ component of Child and Family Welfare system (i.e. those governed by laws, policies and regulations and delivered by state institutions) and the ‘informal’ (i.e. those that are based on community and traditional processes and resources).
Child Protection seeks to guarantee the right of all children to a life free from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. The many actors engaged in child protection include children and youth, families, communities, government, civil society and private organizations.
Child Protection System Strengthening
System strengthening occurs when efforts are made to improve the functioning of all elements in a coordinated and systematic manner. Effective child protection depends on the following elements: (i) appropriate policies, legislation and regulations; (ii) well-defined structures and functions, and adequate capacities; (iii) supportive social norms; (iv) effective promotion, prevention and response actions; (v) high quality evidence and data for decision-making; and (vi) efficient fiscal management and sufficient resource allocation.
This Policy refers to family and social structures especially in rural settings that recognize traditional authorities such as family heads, chiefs, queen mothers, and elders. Rural community structures may also include committees, teams and networks with interest in child protection. In the urban settings, community structures include District Assemblies and other formal state institutions, to which children and families have recourse.
Harm is the result of the exploitation, violence, abuse and neglect of children and can take many forms, including impacts on children’s physical, emotional and behavioural development, their general health, their family and social relationships, their self-esteem, their educational attainment and their aspirations.