Justice & Peacebuilding

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About Protection


At CRS, protecting children and vulnerable adults from harm is everyone’s responsibility. Consistent with our Catholic values to uphold the dignity of all human life and promote both charity and justice, CRS works to mainstream protection activities in all countries and programs where we work. We strive to strengthen family life, ensure impartial access to support (for example, to health and education for both women and girls as well as men and boys), eliminate child labor and trafficking, and increase legal protection around issues of property rights, inheritance and security. 

In 2014, CRS implemented one of the most wide-reaching protection policies of any international organization in the world. It includes a contractual agreement by all staff to receive training and be held accountable to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm, including physical or psychological abuse and exploitation. It also requires staff to report incidences of abuse when they observe or hear about a suspected case, and to assist with recovery via referral and other follow-up actions. Beginning in 2016, CRS will start to ask partner organizations to follow suit with their own policies and standards of protection – thus extending our care and support even farther.

CRS ensures that children and vulnerable adults are at the center of all interventions that affect them. Our programming works through local and national protection systems, both at the formal government level and through traditional structures, to strengthen the capacity of local child protection committees, promoting good governance and peacebuilding. It’s designed to provide a safe environment that is free of threats to human development and growth. 

Here are some examples: 

  • CRS is using an innovative puppet-based methodology to build the social and emotional resilience of children affected by the Syrian conflict through a combination of film, puppet-making, and interactive activities 

  • In India, CRS is working to prevent child migration by strengthening livelihoods and education. The three-year project directly benefits 100 families in five villages. 

  • CRS’ Faithful House curriculum is being used to improve couple communication to overall family function, including family violence protection. The curriculum is currently being used in Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Liberia and Haiti. 



  • Mainstreaming: Protection mainstreaming relates to the approach we take in all our programs. It does not mean changing WHAT we do, but means we should think about HOW assistance is provided. This is essentially about safe, good quality programming. CRS works to mainstream protection principles into all our emergency and development programs, prioritizing the most vulnerable people, seeking their input in program design, and adapting assistance to meet their specific needs. 

  • Integration with other focal areas, e.g. gender: We are involved in various efforts to use our programming as a vehicle to address gender-based violence through research, local assessments, training and advocacy networks. In our work to improve agricultural livelihoods for the world’s poorest farmers,  for example, we pay special attention to the consequences of women’s empowerment, which sometimes leads to a spike in domestic violence. We also deal with issues of child labor exploitation and protection of girls and women who walk to and from the local market. 

  • Effective and diverse programming & projects: In our responses to emergencies, CRS recently committed itself to considering protection issues within all of its disaster relief programs, with linkage to other Caritas programs engaged in similar efforts. In the United States, we provide guidance on protection issues to dioceses and parishes that independently “twin” with programs in Haiti and elsewhere, promoting family-based care rather than orphanages. CRS also implements a wide range of activities related to protection in its work in health, mostly for orphans and other vulnerable children at the community level. Projects may highlight or separately feature interventions related to abuse prevention (e.g. strengthening protection systems at the community level) or provide direct support to children or vulnerable adults by educating them on how to prevent or mitigate abuse. Other projects are integrating protection issues for children and vulnerable adults as part of a broader package of services. One example is the addition of awareness sessions to weekly meetings of Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) Groups.

  • Advocacy: We advocate for civil society plus the public and private sectors to strengthen systems that will prevent and respond to violence and abuse against children and vulnerable adults. We advocate for the promotion of child/human rights. Linking personal security with advocacy at the international level can more effectively create the conditions for long-term peace and stability. We also participate in international advocacy networks, such as InterAction and the Community Child Protection Exchange. 

  • Continued development: To promote the sustainability of programs and integral human development, CRS is examining ways to further strengthen the social service workforce within countries that focus on orphaned and other highly vulnerable children. 

  • Trauma healing and psychosocial work: CRS has helped develop and support psychosocial work on trauma awareness and response through training and education. These programs often complement the other development work that CRS is doing in these communities. In Liberia, for example, CRS supported an innovative project that focused on the effects of war and violence on women, such as rape, physical violence and widows as single heads of households. Trauma healing workshops that involved traditional midwives and local stories, songs and folktales helped women discuss the impact of violence and develop strategies to reduce future violence and rebuild trust in Liberia.