Glossary of Terms

Absolute and/or relative poverty. Absolute poverty refers to some absolute standard of minimum requirement, while relative poverty refers to falling behind most others in the community.

Active social participants. Children are considered active social participants. From early on children pay attention to adults and children around them, react to gazes, voices and actions and wish to contribute to shared activities. Inclusion of children in interaction and cooperation is the most effective way of developing children's capacities, their sense of self-consciousness and children's adoption of cultural values and customs. The young child (under 8) has to feel that s/he plays a part, influences her/his immediate and wider environment, has value in her/his own right, and matters within her/his family, neighbourhood, community, day-care centre, pre-primary school and health care centre/hospital, etc. The child has to have access to information and have opportunities to react to information in any way possible within her/his social environment.

All children. All children includes girls and boys, disabled children and children in need of special protection measures such as: indigenous children; children from different religious and ethnic minorities; migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children; children affected by/infected with HIV/AIDS; children born out of wedlock; children born outside hospitals; children's situations based on caregiver status (i.e., parents or caregivers with mental or substance abuse problems); differences in rural and urban settings.

Alternative care. Care of children who are temporarily or permanently deprived of their family environment or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment.

Alternative reports. Reports produced by NGOs and children's organisations that are submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child with a government's main report.

APGAR. A method devised by Dr. Virginia Apgar to assess the health of newborn children based on five criteria: Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance and Respiration.

Article. One part of a legal document, usually referred to by number.

Awareness of important aspects of early child development as articulated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. For example, the young child as a rights holder; the evolving capacities of children; children as active social participants; expression of views by young children; best interests of the child; consistent and stable care during the early years.

Baseline data. Basic information gathered before a programme begins. It is used later to provide a comparison for assessing programme impact.

Basic services. Basic services include but are not limited to: health, education, social protection, labour, justice, nutrition, water and sanitation.

Best interests of the child. Adults who care for children and assist children in the enjoyment of their rights have to be guided by the child's general interest to develop, learn and enjoy the full rights of a human being living in a community with others. Also all minor decisions affecting children directly or indirectly have to be considered with respect to which of the alternatives best serves the general interests of the child. From the earliest years on adults responsible for the well-being and development of the child must try to include the child in the decision-making process.

Build capacity within health services. For example, ensure that: at least 60% of child health workers in first-level health facilities are trained in IMCI/ACSD; at least 60% of child health workers in first-level health facilities are suitably trained in the importance of early stimulation and communication with young children for psychosocial development; first level health facilities have regular supplies of essential drugs for IMCI/ACSD available (or to ensure that parents have access to free drugs from another source); health facilities are regularly (every six months) subject to supervisory visits with case management observation; community health workers (CHW) have supplies to treat diarrhoea, pneumonia and fever (in countries and districts with operating CHW who are supposed to manage illness); community health workers integrate messages on the importance of early communication and proper implementation in the care they provide to families; all families, particularly those from marginalised populations, have sufficient information and means to provide healthy environments for the development of young children.

Capacity. Includes various forms of capacity, such as: financial capacity to create opportunities for participation; willingness to take children's views seriously and listen to them; understanding of obstacles and letting children know why their voices may not create change; capacity of the child to articulate her/his views.

Child care practices. Practices such as early stimulation through body contact, caressing, talking, looking at, singing, playing, and showing, etc.

Child-centred. A child-centred approach, based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, starts in early childhood education considering the child's experience, feelings and questions, makes children active learners who are solicited to voice their views, and designs education in view of the child's best interests, evolving capacities, and prevailing queries and concerns. The right of the individual child to develop her or his "personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest potential" (Art. 29 (1) takes priority over demands of economy, global competition and narrow criteria of school preparedness.

Child rights stakeholders. Any party that has an interest ("stake") in child rights.

Child rights training programmes. Child rights training programmes, including but not limited to the following: the importance of optimal, positive parenting /child-rearing or ending all forms of violence against all children in all settings.

Children in need of special protection. In most countries this refers to children with disabilities; children of an ethnic origin other than that of the majority; children of minorities and indigenous groups and refugee children. State parties should analyse available data to investigate whether other groups of children exist who do not benefit from measures and programmes on the same level as other children in the country.

Cluster sampling. A sampling technique used when natural groupings are evident in a statistical population.

Committee on the Rights of the Child (or the Committee). A group of 18 independent experts on children's rights nominated by States parties to examine government reports on children on behalf of the United Nations.

Communicable disease. An infectious disease that readily spreads from person to person and is easily caught from an infected person (such as a cold or chicken pox).

Comprehensive Policy Strategy (CPS). CPS can include but is not limited to a policy strategy that: makes it mandatory that professionals working directly with children report cases of suspected violence against children; establishes formal complaints mechanisms; includes procedures to ensure a child rights approach is taken when dealing with all children passing through the justice system (standard operating procedures, codes of conduct and procedural checklists, etc.); guarantees the right of children to confidential legal advice, medical treatment, and psychosocial and other counseling; requires routine post-mortem investigation to determine the cause of all child deaths; and ensures the coordination of measures to promote optimal, positive child-rearing and to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children of all ages at national and administrative levels, including governorships, municipalities, districts and villages.

Concluding Observations. A report prepared by the Committee on the Rights of the Child after it has heard all the evidence from a country. These reports contain recommendations on how governments can improve their record on children's rights.

Convention. A treaty, usually of a multilateral nature (source: Oxford Dictionary of Law).

Convention on the Rights of the Child (or the Convention). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1989 and is the most widely agreed upon international human rights document, with 193 signatory countries.

Corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence. It may be implemented for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable.

Demographic Health Survey (DHS). Provides data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health, and nutrition.

Desk review. A study of existing implementation strategies and approaches to assess the current situation, analyse experiences to date, and draw lessons for future application in policy and programme design, planning, and implementation.

Different aspects of violence against children. Including but not limited to: violence prevention, impact of optimal positive child rearing, circumstances that hinder the ability of marginalised groups to access services and full enjoyment of their rights.

Disaggregated data. Data separated or broken down into components of exclusion and marginalisation. Criteria for disaggregated data: gender, disability, urban or rural habitation, ethnic groups, minorities and indigenous groups of children and children in need of special protection for other reasons.

Discrimination. The unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice.

Dissemination. To distribute or spread word.

Duty bearer. An organisation or individual responsible for ensuring someone can claim their rights.

Early Development Instrument (EDI). A population-based tool used to measure the state of children's development at primary school entry.

Effective and coherent system of prevention. An effective protection system, in accordance with General Comment No. 13 para. 57, should have components ensuring enforcement, quality, relevance, accessibility, impact and efficiency including: inter-sectoral coordination, mandated by protocols and memoranda of understanding as necessary; the development and implementation of systematic and ongoing data collection and analysis; the development and implementation of a research agenda; and the development of measurable objectives and indicators in relation to policies, processes and outcomes for children and families.

Ethical participation of children. Children's participation in research projects is ethical when each project, in addition to meeting general research guidelines, meets the following: opportunities to express views about activities that affect children's welfare are provided to the participating children and these views are respected; the entire data collection process must be supervised to make sure that the best interests of children are protected; the entire process of planning, implementation and analysis of activities is gender-sensitive and provides equal participation chances for boys and girls; additional safety measures are in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of children in especially vulnerable situations (Schenk and Williamson, 2005, pp. 3, 5, 7, 11, 12). Retrieved from

Evaluation and improvement of human resources. Human resources can be improved through: inspection of the quality of work done in institutions; regular in-service training; adequate payment compared to similar professional groups; recognition of the importance of early childhood; and due diligence in staff recruitment and retention in order to ensure continuity.

Evolving capacities. Children's capacities rapidly develop in the early years of their lives, in particular by appropriate challenges to their capacities. Research has demonstrated that children can accomplish many tasks earlier than often assumed by adults, when children receive encouragement and support.

Expression of views. Children communicate intentions, expectations and emotional states, even when their language is not yet developed. This may be demonstrated by non-verbal expression such as facial expressions, gestures, body movements, sounds, mood and physical symptoms. Adults have to learn to pay attention to these different channels of communication. As well, when children later communicate by language adults have to be sensitive to messages that are not perfectly phrased.

Female infanticide. The intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females.

Foster homes. Homes of foster families who provide foster care to children without parental care.

General Comments. A treaty body's interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, on thematic issues or its methods of work. General comments often seek to clarify the reporting duties of State parties with respect to certain provisions and suggest approaches to implementing treaty provisions (source: UNHCHR).

Health and development issues affecting young children. Issues including but not limited to: the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle, including nutrition, food safety and physical activity; the consequences of excessive food consumption and unhealthy food choices, for example obesity, diabetes and other risks if applicable within the context of your country; the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption and use of tobacco and other harmful substances; orientation to body parts and a healthy approach to age-appropriate sexuality; mode of transfer of prevalent transferable diseases within the community; safety of child's physical environment (for example, swallowing objects, stairs, burning, etc.).

Human rights education (HRE). Teaching of the history, theory, and law of human rights in schools and educational institutions, as well as outreach to the general public.

Impact evaluation. Assessment of the changes that can be attributed to a particular intervention such as a law, programme, project, etc.

Impact of awareness-raising campaigns. For example, due to an awareness-raising campaign, the need for positive child-rearing and putting an end to violence against children is talked about more frequently and more openly in the media as a result of a campaign. The country's main TV serial drama incorporated a storyline on this. A survey on caregivers' attitudes towards child-rearing was repeated before and after the campaign and it showed a 65% increase in positive behaviour change towards child discipline.

Incidents of all forms of violence. Incidents such as: substantiated cases of violence against children per 100,000 children; homicides of children per 100,000 children; violent crimes (apart from homicide) against children per 100,000 children; sexual and gender-based violence (sexual, physical, mental and socio-economic violence) and harmful traditional practices; health care facility visits (including health centres, doctors' and nurses' consultations, hospital and emergency room visits) due to violence against children per 100,000 children.

Inclusive education. Educational setting that actively includes all children including the marginalised.

Indicator systems. Systems such as Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic Health Surveys (DHS), the Early Development Instrument (EDI), and other indicator systems that aim to collect data for the purpose of understanding a given issue through asking a series of questions.

Indicators. Pointers that help to determine the extent to which a particular obligation or standard has been, or is being, met.

Infectious disease. A disease caused by a microorganism that is potentially transferable to new individuals. An infectious disease may or may not be easy to catch and is thus not a great threat to others.

International Chamber of Commerce International Code of Advertising Practice. An expression of the business community's recognition of its social responsibilities in respect of commercial communications. It is concerned with promoting high standards of ethics in marketing via self-regulatory codes intended to complement the existing frameworks of national and international law.

International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. The code requires from member states of the WHO to adapt legislation to this Code, make the principles of the Code known to the public, to ensure that manufacturers conform to the Code and cooperate with civil society organisations to fully implement the requirements of the Code. Governments shall report annually to the Director-General of the WHO on action taken to give effect to the principles and aim of this Code (Art. 62 of the WHO Constitution). International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (WHO, 1981).

International cooperation. Art. 4 of the Convention recognises States parties have the right to ask for international cooperation if implementation of children's rights cannot be achieved in view of limited resources. Additionally, it is incumbent upon resource-rich countries to assist others in this regard. The Committee urges States parties to use this legal instrument to address resources requiring obligations of resource rich as well as resource poor countries to include as a separate chapter in their poverty reduction programmes how to ensure the child's right to a standard of living conducive to the development of their capacities and personality.

Isolated children. Children can be isolated by geographic, economic, social, cultural, or migration status, including refugee, indigenous, and disabled children.

Issues related to their health and welfare. This includes issues such as the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle, including nutrition, food safety and physical activity; the consequences of excessive food consumption and unhealthy food choices, for example, obesity, diabetes and other risks if applicable within the context of your country; the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption and use of tobacco and other harmful substances; orientation to body parts and a healthy approach to age-appropriate sexuality; mode of transfer of prevalent transferable diseases within the community; safety of children's physical environment (for example, swallowing objects, stairs, burning, etc.).

La Leche League leaders. Leaders are accredited by La Leche League to help mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies. La Leche League International.

Life skills. Life skills are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are loosely grouped into three broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analysing and using information, personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others. (UNICEF

Marginalised groups. Such groups include, but are not limited to: ethnic minorities, asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, indigenous groups, physically or mentally disabled, including children who are excluded, abandoned, girl children, orphans, children with parents in closed institutions such as prisons, children with low socio-economic status, and children who are unaccompanied or separated from family, etc.

Monitor and evaluate the impact of early education programmes. All institutions and programmes for early childhood education have to be under supervision of a competent administration, which monitors the expansion and the quality of institutions and programmes of early childhood education, including private institutions. Monitoring should use valid criteria in order to assess enrolment, attendance, fees and quality of these institutions and should include transition to school and the first grades of primary school.

Monitor inter-sectoral cross-cutting services. This includes not only monitoring the impact of actions taken by individual sectors and joint programmes, but also monitoring how programmes and services from different sectors affect each other either positively or negatively.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). A survey programme developed by the United Nations Children's Fund to provide internationally comparable, statistically rigorous data on the situation of children and women.

National focal point. The country's national focal point for the WHO, or any other agency, on violence prevention or any other issue.

Negative portrayals of children. For example, sensational media coverage of crimes committed by children, and negative and stigmatising language about children (especially certain groups of children).

Outcome indicators. Indicators that help a State monitor the variable dimension of the right to health that arises from the concept of progressive realisation. Outcome indicators measure the results achieved by early childhood-related policies and programmes. They show the "facts" about young children's lives, such as infant mortality, prevalence of HIV, prevalence of abuse and neglect, and so on. Outcome indicators usually reflect many interrelated processes that collectively determine an outcome, e.g., infant mortality — an outcome indicator — is influenced by various processes, including health care, sanitation and education. (Adapted from the report of Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Right to Health, 2003)

Participation. In the context of this framework, participation means the right of young children and their caregivers to be involved in decisions that affect young children.

Participative research methodologies. Method of research in which research is designed to address specific issues identified by local people, and the results are directly applied to the problems at hand.

Participatory decision-making. Shared decision making: information is shared with children to enable them to make real choices, children are listened to, children understood the consequences of the decision, explained why decisions are made in a particular fashion, process is voluntary and inclusive — equal opportunity for participation by all groups of interested children, equal respect for children of all ages, abilities, ethnicity, social background.

Participatory evaluations. For example, participatory evaluations that include children, caregivers, community members, professionals, administrators, policy-makers and any other relevant stakeholders in the design, collection and analysis of information and the formulation of recommendations. Involvement of children must be done in an ethical and safe way.

Population-based surveys. Surveys that are statistically representative of their target populations.

Positive Agenda. A policy or strategy that identifies a desirable state or goals to be achieved, not only the prohibition and prevention of infringements and deficits. Such an approach specifies appropriate means to achieve these goals, including cooperation with partners, and is directed to sustainable effects and not just to momentary improvements.

Positive portrayals of children. For example, children shown making responsible decisions, helping themselves, their friends, families and others in their community and in the wider world.

Poverty line. The estimated minimum level of income needed to secure the necessities of life (source: Oxford English Dictionary).

Prevention and response services and systems. For example, staff/professional training, with respect to both quality and quantity; independent monitoring and inspection; equitable access to appropriate and child rights-based short and long-term services; inter-sectoral referrals and communications/records access for interdisciplinary case management support for family reunification.

Preventive programmes and projects. Such programmes and projects as public awareness campaigns on zero tolerance to violence, non-violent conflict resolution, showing violence is not acceptable, positive parenting programmes, etc.

Primary prevention of developmental difficulties. Primary prevention of developmental difficulties includes prenatal care such as folic acid and other supplements; maternal nutrition (pre-, during and post-pregnancy); maternal depression; and pregnancy complications, among others.

Primary prevention of violence. Addressing the causes that lead to violence (e.g., parents' unemployment, alcoholism or other substance abuse, social exclusion, etc.

Process indicators. Indicators that help a State monitor the variable dimension of the right to health that arises from the concept of progressive realisation. Process indicators provide information on the processes by which a certain policy is implemented. They measure the degree to which activities necessary to attain certain early childhood development objectives are carried out, and the progress of those activities over time. They monitor, as it were, effort, not outcome (Adapted from the report by Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights on the Right to Health, 2003).

Professional standards. Standards entail quality education for caregivers and teachers in all kinds of institutions, centres and facilities for young children and in-service training for the staff of such places. These institutions, centres and facilities need competent direction and good equipment in order to effectively and adequately encourage children's exploration, experimentation, play and learning. Involvement of children and their parents is essential.

Progressive realisation. Under international law, States are legally obligated to realise the economic and social rights (ESR) of everyone in their jurisdiction progressively. The concept of 'progressive realisation' is based on the recognition that fulfilling ESR may require economic resources and States may not realise all ESR with immediate effect. States, however, have to realise all ESR in time and show the progress they are making towards full realisation of all rights.

Public-private partners. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) mobilise private sector resources—technical, managerial, and financial—to deliver essential public services such as infrastructure, health and education (source: World Bank).

Ratification. The process of adoption of a legal document or treaty.

Recovery and reintegration. Therapeutic services for child survivors of violence such as: therapeutic day care, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, temporary foster care, medical care, etc.

Redress. The act of correcting an injustice, making justice and reparation, in the form of compensation, rehabilitation, or official acknowledgement of the wrong and formal apologies.

Registered Lactation Consultants. Consultants who have specialised knowledge and clinical expertise in breastfeeding and human lactation. International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners:

Reprisals. The act of retaliation. For instance, if an adult punishes a child after learning that child made a complaint against him or her at school.

Resources or publications. For example, leaflets, posters, advertising in mass media, in health centres, in public and private preschools, public transport, in institutions including institutions for children without parental care (including children in conflict with the law).

Retention. The keeping or holding of something.

Right. A power or liberty to which a person is justly entitled, or something to which a person has a just claim.

Rights holder. A person who is entitled to claim rights.

Rights that require birth registration as a prerequisite. For example: vaccination, school enrolment, family allowance or any other right that requires birth registration as a prerequisite.

Sale and trafficking of children. Sale of and trafficking in young children for the purposes of: the sale of children for remuneration or other consideration; child prostitution whereby a child is used in sexual activities for remuneration or other form of consideration; child pornography whereby a child is engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities; sexual exploitation of the child; transfer of organs of the child for profit; engagement of the child in forced labour. For further detail, refer to the "Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography" OHCHR, 2000:

Social protection services. Include but are not limited to: access to community-based counselling and support if and when families face difficulties with employment, housing and/or child-rearing, and access to therapeutic programmes (including mutual help groups) to assist with challenges related to domestic violence, addictions to alcohol or drugs or with other mental health needs.

Socio-economic stress. Stress resulting from a family's low income, unemployment, or lack of proper housing, etc.

Social network analysis. The mapping and measuring of relationships and flow between people, groups, organisations, computers, and other connected info.

State and non-State services. For example, help lines, services offering medical, legal and psychosocial support, pre- and post-natal support services, health worker home visitation services, community-based counselling and support services, therapeutic programmes linked to domestic violence, addictions to alcohol or drugs or other mental health issues, and legal aid programmes.

State party. A State that has ratified a treaty.

Stimulation of young children. Including but not limited to: play, sport and music.

Structural indicators. Indicators that address whether or not key structures, systems and mechanisms are in place in relation to a particular issue (adapted from the report of Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights on the Right to Health, 2003).

Systematic data collection. A process of collecting and preparing data in a consistent and organised manner.

Transparency. The quality of being clear; implying openness, communication, and accountability while and after governing a country, a project, etc.

Treaty. An international agreement in writing between two states (a bilateral treaty) or a number of states (a multilateral treaty). Such agreements can also be known as conventions (source: Oxford Dictionary of Law).

Universal. Applicable to all children, without discrimination, without limit, and everywhere, not only in certain locations, and not only in urban settings.

Various settings and services for early education. Various settings and services entail institutions, centres, facilities and programmes established for young children's education according to children's age and need for assistance, parents' requirement for support and living conditions of families.

Violence in all settings and in all forms. Violence is understood to include "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse" as listed in article 19, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

WHO standards for health services specific to young children. WHO standards include: at least 60% of child health workers in first-level health facilities are trained in IMCI/ACSD ( or the equivalent); at least 50% of child health workers in first-level health facilities are suitably trained to integrate child development messages in their care for children; that first-level health facilities have regular supplies of essential drugs for IMCI/ACSD (or the equivalent), or equivalent, available (or to ensure that parents have access to free drugs from another source); that health facilities are regularly (every six months) subject to supervisory visits with case management observation; that community health workers (CHW) have supplies to treat diarrhoea, pneumonia and fever (in countries and districts with operating CHW who are supposed to manage illness); at least 25 % of the districts have health workers trained in counselling for child development; all families, particularly those from marginalised populations, have sufficient capacity, informational and financial, to provide healthy environments for the development of young children.

Young child as a rights holder. General Comment No. 7 states: Para. (1) "Through this general comment, the Committee wishes to encourage recognition that young children are holders of all rights enshrined in the Convention and that early childhood is a critical period for the realization of these rights."

Young children's state of development. A holistic approach to early child development must address all five domains of development: physical; social; emotional; language/cognitive; and communication.