UNICEF Bulgaria opens a resource center to promote the ‘ZonaZaKrila’ model to support children and families victims of violence
A fundraising campaign for the development of the ‘ZonaZaKrila model’ in three new districts in the country has been launched
Sofia, Bulgaria, 06.06.2023 Zona ZaKrila Child Advocacy and Support Centres is the only place in Bulgaria for comprehensive protection and support of children victims or witnesses of violence and their parents. The model is innovative for the country and created with the support of UNICEF in partnership with the Government, Sofia, Shumen and Montana municipalities, the Social Activities and Practices Institute (SAPI), and the Animus Association Foundation.
Since their establishment in 2016, the three pilot centers in Sofia, Shumen and Montana have supported over 3,200 children and parents.
The information was announced at a meeting with journalists at the Center in Sofia, during which the results of the independent external evaluation of the model and services provided by the three centers were shared.
The assessment shows that the services are adequate, effective and highly valued by children, their parents and specialists from the child protection, education, law enforcement and justice systems. 100% of children report that the Child Advocacy and Support Centers have contributed to positive changes in their lives, and 93.3% of parents say that their own lives have also improved as a result of working with the professionals at Zona Zakrila. Children say that as a result of the support, they feel calmer and more confident, able to recover from trauma and overcome depression and negative feelings of shame and guilt. They have improved their interaction with peers and teachers and improved their academic performance in school.
Since April 1st, Sofia Municipality has taken over the Zona ZaKrila Children's Advocacy and Support Center funding in Sofia.
This was announced at the meeting by UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria Christina de Bruin and Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova. It also opens a specialized Resource Center that will work to promote the model and its distribution in three more new districts in the country.
The aim is to directly support at least 180 more children and families, and to train at least 20 specialists in each region – a total of 60 – who will be able to provide additional and better support to another 600 children at risk and their parents.
"Violence against children is not an isolated phenomenon, it exists everywhere - in every country, society and social group. Every 5 minutes, somewhere in the world, a child dies as a result of violence. The mission of ‘Zona ZaKrila’ is for children who have suffered or are at risk of violence in Bulgaria to have wings again, without bearing the severe consequences of the trauma or feeling threatened by new aggression. Sofia Municipality has been supporting UNICEF and our partners in this mission in various forms for years, and we are extremely pleased and grateful that this cooperation has led to a real joining of our forces in dealing with this phenomenon," said Christina de Bruin, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria
"You can always count on our support, especially when it comes to social services for children victims of violence and their families," said Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.
The main services provided to children and parents at Zona Zakrila Centers include: Crisis intervention in case of emergency; psychosocial support and therapy to overcome the trauma and consequences of violence; access to health care and assistance for medical certification; legal aid and child-friendly hearings in a specialized “blue room” space to protect the rights and best interest of the child and avoid further trauma for the child during the investigation process, while at the same time ensuring the collection of comprehensive and accurate information for the given case.
The assistance provided by CaCs “Zona ZaKrila” is aimed at both children and parents who have experienced violence and those who are at risk or perpetrators of violence.
The team is available 24/7 to respond to all types of violence. As part of its prevention work, “Zona ZaKrila” works with different communities, kindergartens and schools to raise awareness about the different types of violence, its consequences and how it can be effectively prevented.
The teams work in cooperation with the child protection departments, education system, police, prosecution and justice system, while facilitating the efforts of all institutions in the best interest of the child.
More about UNICEF's fundraising campaign to implement the Zona ZaKrila model in three new districts and how you can support us can be found here.
We also recall the data from the nation-wide representative survey conducted on behalf of UNICEF, 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 violence is the most common kind (45.9%), followed by physical violence (31.2%), sexual abuse (15.6%) and neglect (10.5%).
- Every seventh child reports being a victim of online bullying and harassment, especially on social media sites.
- Violence is most common among children at school (38.3%), followed by that in the community (37.6%) and at home (30.9%).
- More than a third (35.9%) of children with disabilities have experienced physical abuse compared to 15.9% of non-disabled children; In addition, almost a quarter (22.5%) of children with disabilities have suffered violence at school compared to only 4.3% of children without disabilities.
- One in three children (34.8%) states that they feel in danger at home, at school or in the community.
Violence affects children's physical and mental health and development, as well as their ability to learn and build relationships with others and become independent and successful adults and parents.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 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 for children, visit www.unicef.org