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What are the Luxembourg Guidelines?

The Luxembourg Guidelines, which were adopted by the Interagency Working Group in Luxembourg in 2016, consist of terminology guidelines for the protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. The guidelines were established as an initiative by a total of 18 partners to homogenise all terms and definitions related to child protection.

Why are universal definitions important?

Words directly affect how we conceptualise and prioritise issues, which is why appropriate and harmonised communication is critical to communicate effectively with all relevant stakeholders about the protection of Children’s rights. Inconsistencies in terminology, especially on an international level, have created challenges for laws and policy development. Even after the establishment of legal definitions for several sexual crimes against children, there remain big discrepancies in terminology between organisations and especially between different countries that negatively affect global efforts at data collection and identification of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children (Interagency Working Group, 2016).

How do the guidelines work?

The Luxembourg guidelines act as a framework for all parties working to combat Child Sexual Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation by providing an overview of all terms related to child protection. All terms are assigned to one of three categories:

  1. Term can be used without particular concern; its meaning appears to be universally understood e.g “Child Sexual Abuse
  2. Special attention should be paid to how the term is used e.g. "age of sexual consent"
  3. The use of this term should be avoided e.g. “child prostitute”

This categorisation of terms is crucial in facilitating respectful, effective, and coordinated communication with all parties concerned with children's safety and streamlining the development of laws and policies related to children's rights.

If you want to make sure that you are using respectful language when communicating about the protection of children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation we encourage you to read about appropriate terminology in the following articles:

What are the Luxembourg Guidelines?
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Words directly affect how we conceptualise and prioritise issues, which is why appropriate, and harmonised communication is critical.