One case is too many: every child should feel safe and protected at all times
UNICEF is deeply concerned by the recent case of child abuse reported to have taken place in school setting in Kosovo. Such abuse against a child is unacceptable and constitutes a gross violation of fundamental child rights, where all children should feel safe and protected in any setting, including in schools, which should be free from violence and abuse.
As per the Convention of the Rights of the Child, every child should feel safe and protected. Further, all institutions, as defined in the Kosovo Law on Child Protection, are to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect a child from all forms of physical or mental violence, abuse, maltreatment, exploitation, corporal punishment, negligence, or any other form that puts at risk the life, safety, health, education and development of the child.
In terms of Education, the Law specifies that a child shall be protected from violence exercised by educational personnel, their peers and any other person within the educational system (Article 37). The safeguarding of a child is everyone’s responsibility, including those who work in schools and educational settings that are particularly well-placed to identify and prevent abuse.
The Child Protection Law which was adopted by the Assembly of Kosovo in July 2019 represented a significant achievement for the protection of children's rights by establishing the legal basis for guaranteeing and protecting children from all forms of physical and mental violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect or other form that endangers their life, safety, health, education, and development. Yet, according to 2020 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) data, a large proportion of children (72 per cent) in Kosovo are reported to have experienced any violent discipline. In overall 30 per cent of children aged 1–14 years experienced physical punishment, and among them six percent experienced severe physical punishment.
UNICEF calls for zero tolerance for sexual harassment and abuse. Further, all children must have the right to enjoy school, attend their lessons and learn free of fear and violence and to socialize with their peers feeling safe and protected. We ask all institutions to advance and implement the Law on Child Protection as a tool to help all girls and boys in Kosovo enjoy their right to live in a healthy and non-violent environment.
We also call on the media to not report the identities of children and their families. Public information and communication should help eradicate the culture of sexual violence, abuse, and any kind of harassment and help protect the children.
UNICEF will continue to support the work of public institutions, civil society organisations, families, children and young people to promote a safe environment for all children, to live safely and be protected from any type of abuse and harassment.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.