EUROPE: Child Abandonment and its Prevention

The issue

Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that every child has “the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents”.  When a child is abandoned, this right is violated. 

Infants and young children are those most at risk of being abandoned. This is concerning, as a child deprived of a stable upbringing in his or her early years of life may experience difficulties in terms of emotional and behavioural development.


The need for research

Despite the importance of understanding the extent, reasons and consequences of child abandonment, there is a distinct lack of research in this area.

Such studies are essential in order to develop effective prevention programmes and strategies aimed at protecting those most vulnerable in our society.


EU Daphne-funded projects

Little was known about the extent of institutional care across Europe until 2003, when the first EU Daphne-funded project showed this practice to exist in 31 European countries.

A commonly cited reason for the institutionalisation of children was abandonment by parents. Further EU Daphne-funded projects relating to the de-institutionalisation of children have since been conducted and this information can also be found on this website.

This current  project on child abandonment and its prevention grew out of previous EU Daphne-funded projects co-ordinated by Professor Kevin Browne, and explores the extent of child abandonment across the EU, its causes, its consequences, and prevention programmes that are currently in place. 




Child abandonment in the project's partner countries


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