Invisible in Violence -- Children in Europe and Central Asia
Ljubljana/Geneva, 5 July 2005 - The invisible faces of children across Europe and Central Asia (ECA) who are subjected to daily abuse and violence in the home, school, community and residential institutions will come into sharp focus at a conference starting today in Ljubljana, Slovenia.‘Stop Violence Against Children – ACT NOW’ runs from 5-7 July and is hosted by the Government of Slovenia and organized in close collaboration with the Council of Europe, UNICEF, WHO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the NGO Advisory Panel on the UN Study on Violence Against Children.
This consultation is one of nine worldwide that will feed into a major study by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on Violence Against Children* due out in 2006. The Study is headed by Prof Paulo Sergio Pinheiro who will address the assembly in Ljubljana.
Delegations from all over the region will confront some harsh home truths, literally and figuratively: the home is not always the safest place for a child. In the European Region alone, four children aged 0-14-years are killed every day - or over 1,300 every year - as a result of homicides or assaults.
In addition, gaps in knowledge and data on violence against children are a regional affront: the depth and extent of the problem is not known and the spotty research available can only provide an approximation.
In an effort to address gaps, the Slovenian Government commissioned a survey into violence in the home to inform preventive policy**. Preliminary results from the survey reveal that of adults questioned:
Regionwide, what few data there are, speak for themselves:
Delegates old and young – some 25 young people are attending – will work to come up with a list of things to do now and in the medium and longer term to lift the veil of secrecy enshrouding the issue and to set up effective avenues of redress for those trapped in the terror, isolation and silence of brutality.
All countries in ECA have a legal framework for action – the Convention on the Rights of the Child – but obligations are flouted day after day by state, social services, law enforcement officials, community, media, family.
Complicit and permissive attitudes to violence against children will be challenged and the media invited to play a pivotal role in shaping views on children commensurate with their dignity as human beings, citizens and vulnerable by virtue of age and size.
In schools, bullying and worse forms of violence take a toll in suicides or ruined lives; the community provides scant refuge for thousands of children living on the streets or merely ‘hanging out’; and most institutions of detention or imprisonment across ECA should be denounced. Nor are children necessarily safe and cherished in residential care.
Individual responsibility to speak out on violence against children will also be stressed in the coming days.
NOTE TO EDITORS:*The United Nations Secretary General has appointed an independent expert, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, to lead a global study on Violence against Children. The study, rooted in children’s right to protection from all forms of violence, aims to promote action to prevent and eliminate violence against children at international, regional, national and local levels. The study is a United Nations-led collaboration, mandated by the General Assembly, to draw together existing research and relevant information about the forms, causes and impact of violence affecting children and young people (up to the age of 18 years). A major report will be published in 2006 and recommendations presented to the United Nations General Assembly.
Nine regional consultations, including the Consultation in Slovenia in July, will pull together regional information on violence against children in four settings: the home, the community, the school and residential institutions. These will articulate the agenda for action and contribute recommendations to the study.
**'Analysis of domestic violence in Slovenia – proposals for preventive measures' was commissioned by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affaris of the Republic of Slovenia and is being carried out by the Science and Research Centre of Koper, University of Primorska. A total of 1,006 adults were interviewed for the survey.