The need to protect children from exploitation and abuse
The need to protect children is an issue for all communities. Children across the world are subjected to exploitation and abuse and experience sexual, physical and psychological violation. Many are forced into exploitative work, including commercial sexual exploitation.
There are many factors that increase children’s vulnerability to exploitation and abuse, including disability or being orphaned, displaced, homeless or abandoned. During emergency and disaster situations, children are more likely to experience exploitation and abuse as a result of being separated from their parents and other caregivers who would normally protect them from such harm.
Child exploitation and abuse traumatises children and adversely affects their development and well-being. Children who are exploited and abused experience a greater likelihood of long-term consequences, including mental health issues, reduced educational outcomes, drug and alcohol abuse and increased likelihood of coming into contact with the law. At its core, child exploitation and abuse undermines a child’s right to grow up safely.
Rationale for Child Protection Policy
There is international recognition that adults who have a formal role in working with or supporting children are in positions of trust and authority. The relationship between an adult and child is not a relationship between equals. Children are dependent on adults to care for and protect them.
Child sex offenders may seek employment or volunteer placements in organisations that work with children in Australia or overseas. They might be attracted to working in developing countries in order to access vulnerable children and to avoid tougher laws.
This policy sends a clear message that child exploitation and abuse is not tolerated and attracts disciplinary and commercial sanctions, as well as criminal penalties under Australian domestic and extra-territorial laws.