"I realized my mistakes and how fortunate I am to get another chance"

At age 14, he fought with his peers, after which he was called to report to the police. Instead of a criminal record and punishments, he was afraid of, he was given an educational recommendation to work in a humanitarian organization

Almir Panjeta for UNICEF
Shvatio sam grešku i koliko sam sretan što dobijam drugu šansu
28 June 2019

When asked to report to the police after he had fought with his peers, then 14-year-old Muamer * from Bihac was afraid that he could end up in prison and get a criminal record that would limit his dreams in the future.

"I train judo. If I had a criminal record, I would have a problem when I need to travel to a competition abroad ... I think that would be a problem for me in further education and finding a job, "Muamer told us. He has already completed serving the educational recommendation "work in a humanitarian organization" that was pronounced to him and done by working in the Association "Žene sa Une" in Bihac.

"When the whole process was completed, where police officers, the prosecutor's office, the Center for Social Work, who visited me at home and at school, spoke to me, I was told that there was this option. I accepted and got the opportunity to work 15 hours at "Žene sa Une," Muamer recalls, adding that his time quickly passed and how his work helped the community:

"It's good to feel useful, I came to the Association, performed various tasks, helped them; I went to the Daily Center, where I used to sharpen pencils for most of the children and there was a lot of them. I realized that every job should be taken seriously and that a lot of effort should be made for everyone, "Muamer says. His mother, Selveta, adds that to her as a parent, the most important thing to her was that her son got a second chance, which, she says, he accepted with open arms:

"We all make mistakes, children even more easily than adults. At first, it was a shock for us, but we saw that it was about people who were not there to punish him, but to help him get on the right path. Psychologically, it was easier when we realized that the message of everything was "You made a mistake you can fix it," not "you made a mistake, now we will punish you and mark you for all time," and we are really grateful to all of those who joined. All together positively influenced him but also the entire family, "Muamer's mother said, adding:

"He had the opportunity to work, and he is much better off for the time he spent in working with women from the Association, where he could hear and learn many useful things rather than have got a criminal record. Being punished and imprisoned with some bad individuals could only offer a bad influence, "Mom adds.

Pravda za svako dijete. Dobio je priliku da radi, i puno mi je draže i puno je bolje za njega što je to vrijeme proveo u korisnom radu i sa ženama iz Udruženja,gdje mogao mnogo korisnih stvari čuti i naučiti, nego da je dobio dosije.
Muamer ostri olovke. Muamer danas ima 15 godina, položio je za skipera, voli rafting, a kaže i kako je sve bolji u džudou.

According to Aida Behrem, Director of Women's Association, where 40 boys and girls volunteered from the very beginning of this upbringing recommendation, all parameters are taken into account when preparing for the measure, and an individual plan is formed for each child.

"The goal is not to disturb the school's or extracurricular activities of the child, and not to feel excluded or miss anything at a time when we are in the activity. When the measure was made Muamer was on break, but he completing the rafting skipper exam, and his stay in one of our services was harmonized with his obligations so that he could successfully complete it, "explains Aida Behrem.


Muamer today is 15 years old, passed the skipper exam, loves rafting, and is improving in judo.


"I was third in the national championship. We are preparing for a club competition in Split, and I hope that I will succeed in competitions to compete for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team. I believe I have a good chance. Most importantly, everything is behind me now; I realized where I was wrong and how lucky I was to get another chance. Nothing like it has since been repeated, and will not be repeated- I turned a new page, I want to succeed in completing elementary and high school and college and be an engineer, "he outlines her plans.

Aida Behrem from the "Women from Una" Association says that children doing this kind of education in the association work as volunteers without further victimization and discrimination.

"It's about children who commit minor crimes and in this way we help them to feel useful, to see someone care and to have someone they care about. In the end, they realize where they have made mistakes, that what they have done is not acceptable and that it is punishable, "says Aida Behrem, adding that the association has the capacity to engage boys and girls in various activities:

"Depending on the ability, affinity, and need, some of us are in the premises of the Association and are engaged in daily activities, we still have a Day Care Center, a Secure House and a mobile team. Most important is that a large number of them even after the end of the measure show interest in continuing to volunteer, we call them whenever we have some humanitarian action and they are happy to join us, "she adds.

Radi se o djeci koja počine neko lakše djelo i na ovaj način im se pomogne da se osjete korisnim

Lejla Alagić of the Social Work Center of Bihać says that the recommendations of the education are pronounced when the juveniles commit a lighter criminal offence and when they show sincere remorse:

"This measure can be pronounced once. In the case of recidivism, other measures are stated. What is positive is that recidivism in these cases is almost absent or insignificant says Lejla Alagić, adding that, based on the data it has been given, the measure is considered successful:

"I think that the reason is that young people understand that the system exists and functions, they see someone taking care of them, they feel useful, and ultimately - they do not come into contact with other offenders who could have a negative impact on them," she says, adding that other similar measures are also successful:

"In addition to these, successful mediation, the measure in which the perpetrator apologized to the defendant is successful, several of them have been successfully executed and we are satisfied. Before the measure both sides of the page, an information leaflet is sent. The remorse of the perpetrator is crucial. The measure was carried out only if the injured person accepted the apology, "adds Lejla Alagić. Željka Bobić, who has rich work experience at the Center for Social Work in Bihać, considers alternative measures to be successful:

"I have been doing this job for 33 years, and I can say that before, there was a much greater number of juvenile perpetrators of crimes than today. For 15 years we have a trend of declining numbers of juvenile recidivists, and in the last 2-3 years, we have recorded a large drop in the total number of juvenile perpetrators. All this happens since systemic reforms have begun, and with alternative measures envisaged by the new law, "concludes.

UNICEF in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by the governments of Switzerland and Sweden, through multi-year initiatives supports strengthening the child protection system in line with the law. The activities of the "Justice for Every Child" program were implemented in partnership with the Human Rights Tuzla Biomass, and a special focus is on providing quality services for children who need institutional support through the security (police and judiciary) and the social protection sector - whether they are in the case of offenders, protected witnesses or victims of violence.


*Name changed to protect the identity of a minor