Children's institutions: a matter of growing international concern Over the past few decades, children’s residential institutions have become a matter of growing international public, governmental and academic concern. Today, between two and eight million children are estimated to live in orphanages or other institutions around the world. The United Nations and international non-government organisations have called on governments in developing countries and the former Eastern Bloc to ‘deinstitutionalise’ or significantly reduce the number of children who live in institutions.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) affirmed that children should be raised by their parents wherever possible. Article 18 states: '1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.'
The UN Secretary-General’s World report on violence against children (2006) called for a reduction in the use of institutions in light of evidence about wide-ranging negative psychological, physical and other impacts on children, with the severity of these negative impacts being worse for children under the age of four years and for those who experienced long periods of institutionalisation.
Indonesia's orphanages are under-researched The number of children in Indonesia's orphanages or panti asuhan is significant in global terms. They possibly account for over six per cent of the total number of children in institutions worldwide. Save the Children estimated that there were between 5,250 and over 8,610 institutions, in which between 370,230 and 516,000 children lived. The Indonesian Government (2013) stated that, in 2009, 167,000 children lived in 5,712 panti asuhan.
Relatively little research has been undertaken into Indonesia’s panti asuhan. More research is needed on how panti asuhan impact upon child development, wellbeing and rights. The numbers, ages and health of children in panti asuhan need to be better understood. Community and religious attitudes toward panti asuhan and the role of philanthropy also remain to be explored in greater depth.
This website This website is a repository of academic resources about Indonesia's panti asuhan. It aims to encourage further research into these institutions, especially about the wellbeing of children. The founding editor is Dr Brian Babington - read more here.