Protecting Children in Palestine Through Collaboration

At TYO, it’s our daily work to create a safe, secure space for children in Nablus, but we’re also working on a broader level to promote protection for all children throughout Palestine. One of the key ways we accomplish this is through our participation in multi-sectoral, collaborative initiatives like the Child Protection in Emergencies Working Group, which brings together organizations working on various forms of child development to define best practices and policies for Palestine’s future. Led by UNICEF, the Child Protection in Emergencies Working Group meets to discuss standards and common principles for child protection in emergencies. In Palestine, child protection could mean exposure to violence, impact of the Occupation, or issues stemming from extreme poverty.

I previously wrote about my participation in the Child Protection in Emergencies Working Group and TYO’s contributions to the minimum standards of child protection in emergencies. Since that time, we’ve continually met with our fellow members of the Child Protection in Emergencies Working Group. Here are a few updates about how we’re making progress for stronger protective standards in Palestine, and what the Working Group is up to:

  • Defining Emergencies: Factors like home invasions, arrests, checkpoints, and exposure to violence significantly impact children in Palestine, and the working group views these and similar events, as emergencies in child protection. To best plan both collective and individual agency responses, we have been working to both define what constitutes an emergency, and how to best categorize responses to them.
  • Monitoring & Evaluation: An important part of child protection, and a critical aspect of what we do, is data collection and monitoring and evaluation about child protection issues. Pre-and-post assessments that occur during each session of TYO’s programs measure psychosocial symptoms expressed by kids here in Nablus- which helps us better understand child protection concerns, and how services in Palestine mitigate them. We also observe what sort of services children can seek or receive at outside organizations, and within their communities- so we can map out what's available for families in emergencies.
  • Integration into Programs: With the data we collect & discussions from the Working Group, we and other organizations look to the best ways to incorporate standards into our own work, and disseminate findings into the community. We do this through our participation in mental health networks, as we work to increase local capacity to respond to emergencies and crises.

In the coming months, TYO will continue to work to support child protection efforts and these measures benefit both Palestine, as well as other conflict-affected countries, who can use these standards to develop their own child protection policies.

-Suhad Jabi Masri is the Psychosocial Program Manager at Tomorrow's Youth Organization. Above, she writes about her participation in the Child Protection in Emergencies Working Group in Palestine.