End violence against children
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNICEF aims to reduce violence at home, at school, in communities and online, and to break the silence around this hidden epidemic.
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Violence has a devastating impact on children. In addition to the immediate risks to their lives and physical health, violence threatens children’s emotional well-being and their future prospects. Violence can also be passed on from one generation to the next because children who experience violence may see it as ‘normal’.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) calls on states to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. Unfortunately, according to the latest data, more than half of children in Bosnia and Herzegovina aged 2-14 years are subjected to some kind of violent discipline, psychological or physical, by their parents or other adult household members.
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted a survey on social norms and attitudes on violence, with a focus on corporal punishment. The findings showed a high level of tolerance towards using corporal punishment in the home, as violence was not perceived as an act of violence but rather a means to educate and raise children.
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina focuses on strengthening child protection systems contributing to realizing children’s right to be free from violence, neglect and abuse, including the right to live in a family environment.
In 2017 UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina developed and published ‘Child-Friendly Guidelines for the Prevention of Violence against Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ and ‘Be the Cyber-Detective’, an interactive educational Facebook application that aims to educate children on how to recognize and stop violence, and to introduce them to the risks of violence in the digital environment.
In addition, in partnership with the NGOs Genesis, Emmaus and World Vision, UNICEF developed guidelines on identifying and responding to cases of online violence against children for professionals. Related training reached 100 child protection professionals, strengthened community-based child protection referral mechanisms, and improved mechanisms for identifying and referring cases of peer violence in 11 primary schools.
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina in collaboration with international NGOs and local CSOs, including members of the Network for Ending Violence against Children (NEVAC), took further steps to strengthen the legal protection of children from all forms of violence and improve the public availability of data on violence against children. Community-based systems were strengthened in seven municipalities through improvements in multisectoral coordination in the response to and referral of cases of violence against children and prevention of violence in 21 primary schools.
Together with the CSO Romalen, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina modeled a project to improve the protection of children in Roma communities, focusing in particular on addressing violence against children, domestic violence and child marriage through sensitizing local authorities on problems faced by the Roma population.
Noting the importance of community nurses in the Bosnia and Herzegovina health system, modules on violence were included in the regular curricula of nurses with UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina support. Additionally, UNICEF trained community nurses in providing counselling to parents, with a special focus on how to recognize violence against children in the household.