Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

Learn how to protect children from violence, exploitation and trauma in courses from leading universities around the world. 

In places where human rights are neglected or oppressed, children often suffer the most. They are especially vulnerable to hazards during times of crises. Human rights professionals recognize the need for protection of minors. They raise awareness on child rights violations, press governments to change harmful policies, assist children during humanitarian emergencies, and use human rights laws to bring perpetrators to justice. More than 1 billion children are estimated to experience physical, sexual or emotional violence every year. Millions of children have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and wars.

To defend the rights of children, it’s essential to know them. We have compiled a list of online courses, that will equip you with the skills and knowledge to defend, promote and protect the rights of children. All courses are free to audit. You can opt-in for a verified certificate for an extra fee.

#1 Child Protection: Children’s Rights in Theory and Practice (Harvard University)
#2 Children’s Human Rights – An Interdisciplinary Introduction (University of Geneva)
#3 Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War (University of Minnesota)
#4 Protecting Children in Humanitarian Settings (Columbia University)
#5 Child Protection for Teachers (Queensland University of Technology)
#6 Caring for Vulnerable Children (University of Strathclyde)
#7 International Women’s Health and Human Rights (Stanford University)

#1 Child Protection: Children’s Rights in Theory and Practice (Harvard University)

Length: 16 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 50 hours Level: Introductory

In this online course you will learn how child protection is enshrined in international human rights law. You will analyze case studies on pressing child rights issues and learn to apply international human rights standards to a variety of contexts. Beyond the legal framework, you will study the impact violence, exploitation and abuse have on children, and what you can do to protect children from these harms. In the final week of the course you will learn how to assess a child protection system and what you can do to strengthen it.

Taught by Jacqueline Bhabha, the Research Director of the Harvard Center for Health and Human Rights, this course will be useful to human rights professionals, child rights advocates, lawyers, educators, law enforcement officers, social workers and everyone else who wants to take action on the rights of children. The self-paced course will take roughly 16 weeks to complete with an estimated commitment of 2-5 hours per week. There are no prerequisites to this course. Everyone is welcome to join and become an agent of change for children’s rights.

REGISTER HERE

#2 Children’s Human Rights – An Interdisciplinary Introduction (University of Geneva)

Length: 7 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 11 hours Level: Introductory

Taking a multi-disciplinary approach with contributions from law, psychology, sociology, history, education and other disciplines, this course offers a well-rounded primer to the human rights of children. Participants of the course will analyze critical issues affecting the rights of children around the world. Starting with an introduction to international and regional standards and monitoring systems, participants of this course will take an in-depth look at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This essential treaty sets out legally binding civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. Whilst the course provides an overview on Children’s Human Rights in general, dedicated chapters will focus on health, participation and freedom from violence. Going beyond the theory, the course will also discuss international and regional judicial and quasi-judicial bodies that were tasked with the implementation of these essential rights. This course will also take a look at human rights programs that promote child rights and analyze why some of them were successes or failures.

This course is taught by three leading experts from University of Geneva’s Centre for Children’s Rights Studies, namely Philip D. Jaffé, Roberta Ruggiero and Jean Zermatten. The entire course takes 11 hours to complete. There are no prerequisites for enrollment. Upon completion, learners who opted-in, can download the paid certificate and add it to their CV. The course is a great asset for everyone who wishes to strengthen their understanding of children’s rights, but students who seek a career in child protection will find it especially useful.

REGISTER HERE

#3 Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War (University of Minnesota)

Length: 6 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 20 hours Level: Introductory

Children are especially vulnerable to harms during times of humanitarian emergencies fueled by wars and disaster. Child soldiers, children who were raped, and children who had been forcibly displaced are most at risk to develop long-term emotional distress. This course will explore what can be done to protect children at risk and how you can support them in their recovery. During this course, you will learn strategies to foster resilience in children and gain insights into key take-aways from 50 years of resilience research. You will also study and analyze interventions that promote and nurture resilience in children, and you will have the opportunity to discuss with other practitioners working with children at risk around the world.

This course is offered by University of Minnesota. It takes approximately 20 hours to complete. Videos contain subtitles in Arabic, French, Portuguese (European), Italian, Vietnamese, German, Russian, English, Spanish and Hungarian. The course is taught by Ann Masten from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. The course draws on the research Ann Masten conducted with children and families who have experienced homelessness, war, migration, disaster, as well as poverty or family violence.

REGISTER HERE

#4 Protecting Children in Humanitarian Settings (Columbia University)

Length: 12 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 60 hours Level: Intermediate

More than 60 million children are affected by humanitarian crises globally. Children are among the most vulnerable during humanitarian crises. They face grave risk from violence, abduction, gender-based violence and recruitment into belligerent groups. Effective responses are required. Drawing on the experiences of child protection practitioners from around the world, this course equips you with the skills to better protect the wellbeing of children in humanitarian contexts. Whilst you will explore international and regional child protection systems, you will also learn how to establish and design successful child protection interventions.

The course is ideal for child rights practitioners and a great asset for everyone who aims for a career in children’s rights. While the course contents are available for free, you may opt-in for a verified certification issued by Columbia University for an extra fee. The course takes approximately 12 weeks to complete with a weekly commitment of 2-3 hours per week but learners are welcome to take the course at their own pace.

REGISTER HERE

#5 Child Protection for Teachers (Queensland University of Technology)

Length: 2 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 2 hours Level: Introductory

This course aims to empower teachers and educators to recognize signs of abuse and neglect. Whilst you will learn about the different types of neglect, you will also study key aspects of relevant child protection legislation and policy. The course will help clarify the role of teachers and other professionals in reporting suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, and outline the characteristics of effective prevention programs at school. Throughout the course you will have the option to engage with other teachers and educators, and to reflect on your own role to improve child protection at your school.

This course is a great option for teachers, educators, and education leaders who want to improve their professional practice but it will also be useful to everyone else who participates in educational systems that include children. The course is taught by Kerryann Walsh, Professor in Education at Queensland University of Technology and specialisation in child protection and child maltreatment prevention.

REGISTER HERE

#6 Caring for Vulnerable Children (University of Strathclyde)

Length: 6 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 24 hours Level: Introductory

In partnership with the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection, University of Strathclyde is offering a course on caring for vulnerable children in the light of child poverty and increasing budget cuts to childcare systems. In this course you will explore concepts of vulnerability, risk, attachment, containment, child development and parenting. Whilst the course will help you assess when vulnerable and at risk children should be removed from their family homes, the course will also enable you to choose from other meaningful and supportive means of intervention.

With a weekly dedication of 4 hours the course takes roughly 6 weeks to complete. More than 100,000 learners have taken the course already and rated it 4.8 out of 5. The course is taught by Senior Teaching Fellow Graham McPheat, who is also the course leader of the international MSc in Child and Youth Care Studies at University of Strathclyde. The course is ideal for everyone working in child care or planning to become a childcare professional in the future.

REGISTER HERE

#7 International Women’s Health and Human Rights (Stanford University)

Length: 10 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 58 hours Level: Introductory

Women’s sexual and reproductive health is heavily intertwined with human rights including the right to life, health, privacy, education and the prohibition of torture and discrimination. Forced sterilization, forced virginity tests, female genital mutilation and early marriage are examples of violations of these rights. UN human rights entities such as the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) fight against these violations. In this course offered by Stanford University, you will learn about women’s health and human rights from child birth to old age.

The course is taught by scholar-activist and non-profit founder Anne Firth Murray, who teaches child rights at Stanford University. The entire course takes roughly 58 hours to complete and can be taken at your own pace. The course is a great asset for everyone who would like to focus their career on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Learners can audit the course for free or choose to opt-in for a verified certificate for an extra fee.

REGISTER HERE

About the author

Robert Fellner

Robert is founder of Human Rights Careers (HRC). A platform with the aim to support human rights students, alumni, graduates and professionals in pursuing and developing their career in human rights. Prior to launching HRC, Robert worked as Global Human Rights EdTech Manager at Amnesty International in London and as consultant for international human rights organizations globally. During 2011 and 2012, Robert worked as lecturer at Ain Shams university in Egypt.