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UNICEF and MYS: Adolescents are a resource!

BUCHAREST, 18 September, 2013 - On Tuesday, 17 September 2013, UNICEF Romania and the Ministry of Youth and Sport (MYS) launched the report “State of Adolescents in Romania”. Attending the event were Nicolae Bănicioiu, the Minister of Youth and Sport, Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania, the research teams from the Centre for Urban and Regional Sociology (CURS) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), adolescents, and representatives of various youth NGOs.

The study was carried out with CURS and IES support and it is the first research in Romania looking at opportunities and challenges for children throughout adolescence, from age 10 to 18.

“In order to develop public policies with long-term impact, we need evidence as well as to ensure the participation of those directly targeted by such policies – in this case adolescents–, and this study takes a close look at several issues. The Ministry of Youth and Sport took into account the preliminary findings of this research and addressed a series of problems in the National Youth Strategy 2014-2020, submitted for public debate last month. We will continue to work with our partners, with the other ministries for an integrated approach to the problems faced by adolescents and young people, irrespective of their background, so that we give them a chance for a better life,” stated Nicolae Bănicioiu, Minister of Youth and Sport. “In conclusion, the Ministry supports UNICEF’s work and contribution to identifying adolescents’ problems and I’d like to stress the fact that we will embed the Youth Strategy 2014-2020 in all our projects. Moreover, I encourage NGOs to join our programmes,” added Nicolae Bănicioiu.

There are currently over two million adolescents in Romania. Each of them is unique and faces with different challenges and opportunities, yet all of them have the right to grow up in a protective family environment; the right to access quality health and education services; the right to be protected from violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking; the right to participate in decisions that affect them.

“Adolescence is a crucial age when life habits are formed and life-impacting decisions are made. That is why, investing in adolescents is strategically important to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage affecting hundreds of thousands of them. Adolescents are an excellent source of energy, a huge gain for the country. We can’t ignore them,” asserted Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania. “We are already working with the Ministry of Youth and Sport on developing the National Youth Strategy 2014-2020, which is informed by this study. We also work with the Ministry of Youth and Sport, an inter-ministerial group and NGOs to come up with an action plan based on the findings of this research for fulfilling the rights of all adolescents regardless of where they come from,” added Sandie Blanchet.

State of Adolescents in Romania reveals major differences among adolescents. Adolescents from rural areas face higher risks of poverty and drop out; urban adolescents are more exposed to the risk of taking up drugs; girls are vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies; boys are more likely to become involved in acts of violence or substance abuse. 

According to the UNICEF study, the most vulnerable groups are: adolescents with disabilities, adolescents from Roma communities, and adolescents who use drugs. 

The most common risks facing adolescents are: school drop-out (65% of Roma children do not attend lower secondary education); unwanted and early pregnancies (17,000 of girls under 18 were pregnant in 2012); alcohol use (42% of adolescents have drunk alcohol at least once) and smoking (23% of adolescents have smoked at least once); drug use (5.4% of adolescents over 14 years of age have used drugs at least once).

The study also formulates a series of recommendations:

  • The education system should provide adolescents with relevant skills and knowledge, including health education which should be integrated into the required curriculum. 
  • The social protection system should identify vulnerable families with adolescents and provide counselling and other support services at the community level.  
  • Providing healthy leisure activities, like sports, would minimise adolescents’ exposure to risky behaviours. 
  • All these basic services should be delivered at local level, close to adolescents, by professionals working together. Romania should develop specialised services for vulnerable adolescents, for those with disabilities or those who have already picked up risky behaviours. 
About UNICEF Romania
UNICEF is on the ground in Romania and other 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  In Romania, UNICEF works with the Government, the Parliament, local authorities, the civil society, the private sector, national and international partners and the media to provide all children access to high quality early childhood education and schooling, to safeguard adolescents and monitor child rights, to ensure social protection and leverage resources for children. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations.

 

 
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