Holistic Strategies Needed to Combat Violence against Children in Europe
UNICEF Regional Director Steven Allen (in the center)
Kyiv, 24.05.2011 – “Holistic strategies are needed to combat violence against children in Europe” – this is the main message of an international conference «Combating violence against children: from isolated actions to integrated strategies” organised under the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers which opened today in Kyiv.
Bringing together around 200 participants from twenty three countries the two-day conference is discussing ways to implement integrated national strategies to safeguard children’s rights and eliminate violence against children, with a focus on Central and Eastern European countries.
The discussions place the challenge in its larger context, stressing the need also to fight the roots of violence against children, i.e. poverty, absence of democracy and human rights and social stereotypes.
Participants have expressed concern about the lack of reliable data about the various forms of violence affecting children. A snapshot of evidence collected in seven Central and Eastern European countries indicated that six out of ten children have been victims of violence. Children in institutions are particularly vulnerable, not only to physical and psychological violence but also to sexual abuse.
Discussions are focusing on:
- reforming child protection systems
- developing support services and improving national child care standards and policies
- addressing violence through cross-sector co-ordination and co-operation at regional and local level
- counseling, reporting, complaint and referral systems for child victims, witnesses and perpetrators of violence, including re-integration and rehabilitation programmes
- child-sensitive procedures and access to justice; and combating child prostitution and child pornography
The Conference was opened by Andriy Klyuyev, First Vice Prime Minister, who said “Violence is not only its blatant forms like sexual abuse or children’s trafficking which are criminally prosecuted actions and punishment of the responsible persons, but it is also any deviation from adherence to the fundamental rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ukraine has a developed legislation framework to protect children against all forms of violence, which by and large is in line with international standards in this field. However, the practical mechanism to combat violence against children needs to be further developed, in particular, in regard to deeper cooperation among the state authorities, civil society, individual citizens, and mass media. It is important to study and implement in Ukraine the initiatives and recommendations on the protection of the rights of the child developed by of the Council of Europe.”
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe:
“The Council of Europe – through its programme “Building a Europe for and with children” – is ready to support the implementation of international standards on the rights of the child and the adoption of comprehensive strategies in its 47 member states. If we wish to build a child-friendly Europe, governments and the society as a whole need to endorse an approach which is based on zero-tolerance for violence. The prohibition of all forms of violence against children, the promotion of child participation, the training of professionals and the launch of awareness raising campaigns are some of the measures we ask governments to take. I am convinced that Ukraine can address this challenge by carrying further the implementation of its National Action Plan for Children 2010-2016.”
Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children:
“Violence against children is a global phenomenon from which no state is immune. Across regions, significant efforts are being deployed to raise awareness about the dramatic impact of violence on the enjoyment of children’s rights, and to place violence against children high in the public debate and in the policy agenda. In the wide European region, the full range and scale of violence against children is starting to gain visibility. Violence remains widespread, hidden and socially condoned and takes place in all contexts, including where children are expected to enjoy a secure environment and special protection - in schools, child care institutions and also within the home. We must break the silence by ensuring that there is better information and data about violence against children. In still too many countries, accessible and child friendly counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms remain unavailable or under-resourced, and still too often, professionals working with children tend to feel reluctant to address, report or refer these cases to relevant bodies and institutions. We must address these issues with a strong sense of urgency.”
Steven Allen, UNICEF Regional Director:
“The accountability that States have accepted upon signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child puts the ultimate responsibility on the shoulders of Governments to ensure that violence against children does not go un-identified, un-reported and is not left without an appropriate response. Service providers and professionals coming into contact with children need to have clear mandates, guidance and training on how to act in cases of suspected child abuse. We need to challenge the social acceptance that it is justifiable, in some circumstances, for one person to beat another. Developing preventative measures as a response to situations which are known to increase the risk is another responsibility of States. Social protection mechanisms and services to help parents cope with the stress they may face in their everyday life. It also points to the need to support parents in their care giving role and to inspire positive parenting skills.”
Ambassador José Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine:
“The European Union has zero-tolerance to all forms of violence against children. It stands ready to help Ukraine and other countries of the region in developing comprehensive prevention-oriented strategies and national coordinating mechanisms to eliminate violence against children and to protect vulnerable children.”
More information is available at: www.ditu.gov.ua, www.coe.int/children, www.unicef.org.ua, http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/ukraine/
Please see presentations of participants
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