Data gaps make the issue “invisible”, says UNICEF
GENEVA, 31 May 2005: Violence against children in residential institutions can be found across Europe and Central Asia, according to research gathered by UNICEF in the run-up to a major conference on violence against children. The research also reveals glaring gaps in knowledge and data.
“Children in residential institutions – from children’s homes to detention centres – are desperately vulnerable,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “They are vulnerable because they are separated from society in a ‘closed’ environment. And the more closed that environment is, the greater the risk of violence and the smaller the chance that it will be reported.
“We have to remember that things have already gone badly wrong for the children who end up in institutions,” she added. “They are already scarred by family troubles and that only increases their vulnerability.”
One of nine consultations worldwide, the Consultation on Violence Against Children in Europe and Central Asia takes place in Slovenia in early July and will feed into the Secretary General's Study on Violence Against Children due out in 2006.
Nobody knows exactly how many children are living in institutions in Europe and Central Asia. The most conservative estimates put the figure at around one million.
“There is a serious and fundamental knowledge gap on the numbers,” said Calivis “which makes the issue ‘invisible’ and undermines the chance of an effective response.”
The research is likely to fuel debate at the forthcoming Regional Consultation:
“This is unacceptable,” said Calivis. “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sets the standards for children in institutions. The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has spelled out their rights, including the right to a non-violent upbringing. The ground-rules are there, but they need to be followed.”
UNICEF calls on the ministers attending the July Consultation on Children and Violence to:
NOTE TO EDITORS:
UNICEF has been gathering existing research on violence against children in residential settings in preparation for the Regional Consultation on Violence against Children in Europe and central Asia, which will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 5–7 July 2005, hosted by the Government of Slovenia and co-organised by the Council of Europe, UNICEF, WHO, OHCHR and the NGO Advisory Panel.
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.
For more information:
Angela Hawke, CEECIS: (+4122) 909 5433,
Monique Thormann, Geneva, (+4122) 909 5730,
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