Violence, abuse and neglect
Many parents in Romania employ corporal punishment. Violence in schools, by both teachers and other children, is high by world standards, and schools are also the scene of sexual abuse and drugs. Another major issue is child labour. Widespread subsistence farming and rural poverty mean that many young people are involved in agriculture. In the majority of cases the working hours and conditions are exploitative and breach legal requirements, stopping children from going to school or being able to enjoy their leisure time.
Legislation in this field has been improving for the past ten years, the most recent example being the revision and updating of the hazardous work list in 2009. This has been backed up by a gradual but significant increase in budgetary allocations, though the economic crisis has put many areas of government spending in doubt. While EU accession has been the stimulus of much improvement in the law protecting children, increased freedom of movement presents new challenges, such as greater ease of child trafficking, and there have been cases of Romanian children being taken to Western Europe to beg or steal. Children are also sent to beg on the streets of Bucharest and other major cities.
Although the number of children living on the streets has fallen in recent years, homelessness among the young persists. Official government figures put the number of children living on the street in Bucharest alone at 1,500, but unofficial estimates suggest the actual number could be double that. Life on the streets puts children at increased risk of violence, sexual exploitation, health problems, drug abuse, illiteracy and discrimination by the authorities.