UN Study on Violence Against Children
Independent expert Professor Pinheiro meets with young experts in Slovenia
By Chris Schuepp, UNICEF CEE/CIS
Professor Paulo Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro has covered thousands of flight miles since he was appointed to head the UN Study on Violence Against Children. But wherever he goes to participate in the regional consultations, the face-to-face meetings with the young people are among the highlights of his trips.
On this rainy Tuesday morning in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, 24 young people from Europe & Central Asia are waiting for “the expert” to arrive. They have come from all over the region – from Lithuania in the North, Italy in the South, from Northern Ireland in the West and Tajikistan in the East. For two days they have prepared their participation in the regional consultation meeting that will be opened later in the day – but before that, they have a chance to talk to the man who has the global mandate to collect information on violence against children. And collecting information today first of all means to listen to the children.
“I am very happy to be here and meet all of you today. I will introduce myself briefly, but I really want to listen more than I want to talk,"Prof. Pinheiro makes clear from the very beginning. Holding a print-out of the children’s recommendations from the day before in his hands, he asks them to come forward with concrete experiences or suggestions. After a somwhat shy start, the questions come rolling in. Katarina from Slovenia is concerned about parents beating their children, Max from Romania shares similar worries, especially when talking about the rural population and traditions in his homecountry. The teenagers from the United Kingdom bring their fears about alcohol abuse forward and Zarina from Tajikistan demands more hotlines for children who have been victims of domestic violence.