Children never run out of questions
The regional consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children in Europe & Central Asia again proved this fact. After two days of preparation and another two day at the main conference in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, 24 children and young people today had a chance to meet with UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah, UNICEF Regional Director for the CEE/CIS and Baltics, Maria Calivis, and the independent expert leading the study, Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.Pinheiro, who had already met with the children once two days ago, opened the round of questions, asking them how they will try to make a difference when they return to their countries. Gleb (14) from Belarus said: “I will share the experience with my friends at home. And I will try to get an interview with radio and TV stations in Belarus, because I think it’s very important to reach a big number of people with this important message.” Milos (16), from Serbia-Montenegro, added that “it was great to finally be recognized and heard at such a high level. It was very informative as well and I will spread all the new info with my peers at home”.
Rima Salah, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, reassured the young people that their participation in the UN study was of vital importance: “You gave this whole conference a human face”, said Salah. “You are the best people to tell us what is really happening and we want you to help us stop violence against children.”
Martin (17) from Slovenia used the opportunity to criticize the government of his country: “We had a 90-minute Act Now!-session yesterday and nobody from Slovenia was their to answer our questions. As the host country of the regional consultation, I thought they would be there to listen to us… Also, in the other sessions, many adult talked for 10-15 minutes and could have said the same in about a minute or so.”
Cassie (17) from England saw more positive developments, saying, “We have made huge progress against violence, especially in terms of youth participation”. Katarina (15) from Slovenia asked the UNICEF representatives as well as Prof. Pinheiro to “make the Convention on the Rights of the Child available to every child in the region. There should also be more volunteers to promote the CRC and child rights should be taught in our schools.”
The final remark was made by Maneh, a 16-year old girl from the Armenian capital Yerevan. She said: “It was great being here and I am sure I will miss you all when I go back home. But I wish all problems were of this kind – because if we miss each other, then we truly love each other!”