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Child protection has focused on responding to interpersonal violence and abuse. This approach can detach children from the broader socio-economic and political structures which shape their life chances, by concentrating on the symptoms of risk rather than the underlying causes. Drawing on the Young Lives study of childhood poverty, this paper argues that poverty and inequalities are at the heart of childhood risk, shaping which children are at risk and access to sources of protection and therefore to children’s life chances. In order to protect children better, the child protection field needs to engage with the structural nature of risk.

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