Nearly half of Georgians consider the use of physical violence against children as acceptable
Make the Invisible Visible: UNICEF urges louder voices and urgent action to fight violence against children
TBILISI, 11 October, 2013. The UNICEF commissioned study being launched today revealed that 60 per cent of the population in Georgia believe that harsh parenting is more effective than non-violent parenting methods. The new study on Violence against Children in Georgia was conducted with the support of USAID.
The study also reveals that 94 per cent of those surveyed understand that children are hurt even when they just observe violence at home. But 70 per cent are reluctant to accept the idea of the ‘authorities’ interfering with family affairs, even when there may be violence in a family. Even 60 per cent child protection professionals (teachers, resource officers and social workers) think that a family’s internal affairs are its own business, and should not be interfered with by others.
“Violence is everywhere. It happens in all countries, at all levels of society”, said Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “But too often, violence against children is invisible because it occurs within homes and families or because people turn a blind eye to it. UNICEF has been working with the Government of Georgia and USAID to advance the child protection referral procedures but in order to make this institutional mechanism work properly it is crucial that we all are active and speak out when we see the violence.” Graumann added.
According to the study, an awareness of the child protection procedures and roles of various professionals promotes reporting as when a person knows how to react and whom to appeal in cases of violence, he/she is 80 per cent more likely to report the issue. But only 38 per cent of the population is aware of the referral.
Among the principle actors of the procedures, policemen and social workers demonstrated the highest degree of understanding regarding what constitutes violence against children. Substantially lower was the knowledge of their role in the referral procedures. For example, 22 per cent of social workers do not think it is their job to respond to physical violence, and 26 per cent of social workers do not think it is their responsibility to respond to neglect. School professionals have lesser knowledge of the violence and lower understanding of their role in child protection referral producers. 46 per cent of all school professionals (teachers and school resource officers) stated that the violence would have to be severe and repetitive in order for it to be reported.
The presented study comes at the moment when UNICEF is conducting a ground breaking ‘End Violence Against Children initiative’, a global initiative that urges ordinary citizens, lawmakers and governments to speak out more forcefully to fight violence against children.
The initiative was unveiled in July with a powerful video narrated by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson, who leads the viewer through a series of scenes depicting invisible violence.
“Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” Neeson says. “Make the invisible visible. Help us make violence against children disappear. Join us. Speak out.”
Violence inflicts not only physical wounds but leaves mental scars on children. It affects their physical and mental health, compromises their ability to learn and socialize and undermines their development.
“Everyone has a role to play in ending violence against children”, said Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Knowing the situation, developing protective laws and policies; promoting services; targeting programmes at those who most need them; raising awareness and changing attitudes and social norms are crucial to combat the violence. The study we are presenting today proposes specific recommendations on how to reverse the tolerance and practice of violence against children in Georgia.” Graumann added.
In previous years UNICEF conducted a number of studies which revealed that children in Georgia have been experiencing high levels of violence in different settings. In order to analyse barriers to ending violence against children in Georgia and to review the progress of the child protection referral system, two studies were undertaken by UNICEF in 2012-2013 with the support of USAID.
The “National Survey of Knowledge, Attitude and Practices” study describes the Georgian public’s knowledge about different forms of violence, and then analyses the general public’s experience, attitude and perceptions of different forms of violence against children. The quantitative study was administered to 3,284 households randomly selected across the country and to 61 professionals, including statutory social workers, teachers and school resource officers(mandaturi). The “Analysis of the Child Protection Referral Procedures”, a qualitative study, was conducted through focus groups with professionals (in total 12 focus groups) and in-depth interviews with representatives of Public Defender’s Office, Social Service Agency and various non-governmental organizations working in child protection field.
The Public Service Announcement with Liam Neeson is available for viewing at this link and for to download at this link
For more information, please, contact:
Communication Officer, UNICEF Georgia
Tel: (995 32) 2 23 23 88, 2 25 11 30
Cell: (995 599) 53 30 71