Every child and every family in Bulgaria to have access to protection from violence and support

UNICEF calls for actions to ensure access to specialized services, including free psyhological and legal support for victums of violence

14 August 2023
Всяко дете и всяко семейство в България да има достъп до закрила от насилие и подкрепа
UNICEF Bulgaria/2023

Sofia, Bulgaria, 14 August 2023 – UNICEF joins the public and political reaction regarding the recent cases of violence, expressеs its support for the victums and calls for zero tolerance of violence throughout a whole of society approach. Particularly worrying is the data from the Agency for Social Assistance, published in the Report on equality between men and women in Bulgaria, according to which 736 domestic violence cases were registered in Bulgaria in 2022 and out of them 542 (73%) are children.

Violence against women and violence against children are recognized as global human rights and public health issues and both negatively impact gender equity and economic growth at a population level. Numerous studies have demonstrated the intersections between gender-based violence, domestic violence, child abuse and intimate partner violence, with a focus on the effect on subsequent generations, namely the continuous cycle of this phenomenon. Research shows that it is difficult or impossible to prevent one form of violence (such as child abuse and neglect) where another (such as intimate partner violence) is prevalent.

In order to tackle the phenomenon of domestic violence, there is a need not only for a change in the societal attitudes towards violence and the rights of girls and women, but also for effective laws, policies and measures for prevention and support to victims. UNICEF also calls for investment in specialized interventions and integrated services to address the common risk factors between violence against children and violence against women and impact on multiple forms of violence.

"We also would like to draw special attention to the need for an individual assessment of the victim's need for protection and support and ensuring access to specialised services, including free psychological and legal assistance," said Christina de Bruin, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.

The model of Child Advocacy Centres “ZonaZaKrila”, developed with the support of UNICEF Bulgaria, is considered as a good practice in the area of prevention and response to violence "Zona ZaKrila" is the only place in Bulgaria for overal protection and support of children victims or witnesses of violence and their families. The model is innovative for the country and was created with UNICEF support in partnership with the Government, the Municipalities of Sofia, Shumen and Montana, and SAPI (Institute for Social Activities and Practices), together with  “Animus” Foundation in 2016.

The centres provide free and accessible 24/7 services for children victims of violence and their families, such as crisis intervention, counselling, legal assistance, psychological and social support, assistance for medical examination and interviewing children in a child-sensitive manner.

Since their establishment in 2016, the three pilot centres in Sofia, Shumen and Montana have supported more than 3,200 children and families.  The conclusions from the external independent evaluation show that the model and the services provided by the three centres are effective, highly appreciated by children and their parents, respond to the needs in the country and recommend implementation of the model in all 28 districts of the country.

In order to meet the needs, UNICEF Bulgaria revives its campaign to raise funds and support  the implementation of the "Zona ZaKrila" model – for integrated provision of support to children victims of violence and their families - in the districts of Kyustendil, Varna and Yambol.

"We call for zero tolerance to violence in all its forms and for finding a solution to this global phenomenon through constructive dialogue and joint actions by national and local authorities, civil society, media, business and the  society as a whole. UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to support the scale up of the "Zona Zacrilla" model nationally, as well as the ongoing reforms in the national legal and policy framework," - added UNICEF Bulgaria Representative Christina de Bruin.

Find out more here about UNICEF's campaign to implement the “ZoneZaKrila” model in three new districts and how to support us.

UNICEF relies on support from donors, to continue and build on its programmes. Become a BLAGODETEL with regular monthly donations and help girls and boys in Bulgaria to have access to protection from violence.

We would like to recall the data from the nationally representative survey commissioned by UNICEF Bulgaria, which shows that 47 percent of children in Bulgaria, or every second child, has experienced some form of violence by the age of 18.

  • Emotional abuse was the most common type (45.9%), followed by physical abuse (31.2%), sexual abuse (15.6%) and neglect (10.5%). 
  • One in seven children report having been victims of online bullying and stalking, especially on social networks.
  • Violence was most common among children at school (38.3%), followed by in the community (37.6%) and at home (30.9%).
  • More than a third (35.9%) of children with disabilities experienced physical violence compared to 15.9% of children without disabilities; furthermore, almost a quarter (22.5%) of children with disabilities suffered violence at school compared to only 4.3% of children without disabilities.
  • One in three children (34.8%) reported they feel unsafe at home, at school or in their community.

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40

UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org/Bulgaria