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Major step forward to end violence against children in South East Europe

TIRANA/GENEVA/BRUSSELS, 12 November, 2013 — A joint EU and UNICEF initiative aimed at protecting children against violence in four countries in South Eastern Europe has wrapped up with a plea to make the issue a Europe wide priority.

The Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Edi Rama said: “My government and I are committed to help ending violence against children. I invite other key leaders to join me in making this global concern a European priority.”

Mr. Rama was addressing a regional experts` meeting in Tirana to exchange lessons learned from a two-year EU-UNICEF initiative in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey. The four countries directly involved and seven other countries also focused on the issue were represented by government officials, experts, practitioners, ombudspersons, parliamentarians and civil society organizations at the two-day meeting.

“Violence against children will remain hidden and unresolved if more people do not speak out or take a stand,” said Mr. Rama in his opening speech.

One of the key findings from the initiative was that the identification, reporting and referral cases of violence against children needed to be improved substantially.

UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier said in South East Europe and other parts of the world, violence against children was hidden away from view because it occurred within homes or schools and remained hidden because children, parents, families and teachers turned a blind eye to it. 

Globally, one billion children are estimated to experience violence in their lives according to research cited by UNICEF Innocenti Centre.

The EU and UNICEF stated that although the initiative showed promising results more reform still lies ahead. Strong cooperation among national governments and civil society was critical to preventing and responding to physical, emotional and sexual abuse against children. 

“Investing in children is investing into the future – protecting their rights needs to be our priority. Government institutions, international organizations and civil society need to work together to better detect violence against children and to increase awareness about children's rights and wellbeing. This initiative has given an important contribution to reaching this objective – by enhancing the networks for the protection of children who are victims of violence or any other forms of neglect," European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle said in a written statement from Brussels.

“This initiative has proven that violence, if it is recognized, can be prevented and addressed with collective will, determination and action. We know what it takes to make childhood free from violence,” Ms. Poirier said. "Let us speak out so that we make the invisible visible. Let us stand united in our efforts to stamp out all forms of violence against children."

The EU and UNICEF reported that many promising practices have been identified:  
  • Social and health workers, teachers, police and justice officials are starting to work together in an integrated and multi-disciplinary way.
  • Family welfare-oriented policy models to prevent or respond to violence against children are gaining more support.
  • Ombudsperson for children and civil society are starting to provide constructive, yet critical views of responses to violence against children.

These results still need to be strengthened beyond 2013. Policies and laws need to be better defined; professional services that support families to be expanded; monitoring, follow-up and information exchange be improved. Governments, lawmakers and ordinary citizens are urged to speak out more forcefully to challenge social norms that justify violence against children.

Download the report “Keeping children safe from violence

For more information, please contact:

Peter Stano
Spokesperson of Commissioner Füle
European Commission
Tel: +32 2 295 7484

UNICEF Albania
Anila Miria
Tel: +355 6920 29021

UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS
Lely Djuhari
Tel: +41792044482






Join the global movement to #ENDviolence against children.

Conference documents

Insights: Child rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia - Keeping children safe from violence: Making systems more supportive of families and accountable to child rights - Issue I / 2013 - Download as PDF

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