Context, vulnerability and resources


The term vulnerability is commonly used in the debate on child trafficking. Children are often per se considered ‘vulnerable’ and in need of special protection. A systematic conceptual debate on vulnerability for the context of protection from exploitation and trafficking has however not yet taken place although vulnerability is considered a key concept in relation to the prevention of trafficking and the identification of children at risk.

Existing definitions have reached consensus that vulnerability is an aggregate concept composed of a dynamic interaction of risk and resilience. Vulnerability is caused by risk and balanced by resilience, i.e. the capacity to handle the risk. Measures that seek to reduce risks and at the same time strengthen resilience will therefore be well placed to reduce vulnerability. For the context of child exploitation, this implies a need to combine protection measures to minimise risks of exploitation with empowering measures to strengthen resilience and contribute to broad-scale prevention.

Read more: Assumptions



The intent of this session is to clarify how every strategy of protection could consider the context as a dimension able to stimulate and produce vulnerability or on the contrary to value the resources available and the child resilience.

The grade of vulnerability of a human being is not only determined by endogenous characteristics, but also by the availability and shortage of opportunities in the referral context. From this point of view the grade of vulnerability can be interpreted as the chance or not to rely on resources,  opportunities and protection mechanisms provided by the context of interaction.   

Read more: Objectives

Training activities and agenda outline

  Total time required 4 – 4,5  hours 

A.    Introduction – 20 minutes
Introduction to session agenda, objectives and expectations along with the presentation of the session assumptions related to the vulnerability concept using as background material the information included in the Chapter 2.b of the IMPACT Report 2013.

B.    Brainstorming –  30 minutes
The facilitator invites the participants to take into consideration the position of the child involved in the case story selected (see  Session 1) and try to look at the situation in which he/she is involved from the perspective of the child. The facilitator poses the following question to the group of participants: What are the elements making our Child more vulnerable?

Read more: Training activities and agenda outline

Further bibliographic references


  • KMOP/Defence for Children Italy (2013), IMPACT Transnational Analysis
  • Alwang, Jeffrey;  Paul B. Siegel; Steen L. Jorgensen (2001), Vulnerability: A view from different disciplines, Social Protection, The World Bank, Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0115.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gösta (2002), “A child-centered social investment strategy”, in G. Esping-Andersen with D. Gallie, A. Hemerijck and J. Myles (eds.), Why we need a new welfare state, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 26-67.
  • O'Connell Davidson, J. (2011), Moving children? Child trafficking, child migration, and child rights, Critical Social Policy August 2011 vol. 31 no. 3 454-477
  • O’Connell Davidson, Julia and Caitlin Farrow (2007), Child Migration and the Construction of Vulnerability, School of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Save the Children Sweden, available at this link (accessed February 2014)
  • Dercon, Stefan (2001), Assessing Vulnerability to Poverty, Oxford University, available at this link  (accessed February 2014).
  • Engle, Patrice L., Sarah Castle, Purnima Menon (1996), Child Development, Vulnerability and Resilience, International Food Policy Research Institute, FCND Discussion Paper No. 12, Washington, available at this link  (accessed September 2013)
  • Haynes, P. (2003), Managing Complexity in the Public Services. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Hassett, P. and I. Stevens (2005), Risk Management and Risk Assessment: A Training Pack. Glasgow: SIRCC.
  • Hjorth, P. & Ali, B. (2006), Navigating towards sustainable development: A system dynamics approach. Futures, Vol 38, pp. 74-92.


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