Child Protection

All children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse

A small girl and her bigger brother are looking through Venetian blinds
UNICEF/2017/Georgiev

The challenge

Children who are victims of violence, neglect and abuse may suffer lasting effects in terms of brain development, particularly those in their earliest years. This can result with difficulties in learning and limited social skills. These children are also much more likely to exhibit risky or delinquent behavior, or suffer from depression or anxiety when older.

Similar lifelong physical and cognitive scars are suffered by children deprived of a family environment. Some 119 children and youth– many babies under 3 years and children with disabilities are still living in large scale institutions in the country, without the love, attention and support they need and have a right to have.

Every child needs a carefree childhood, a childhood that is completely free from violence, exploitation and abuse

Currently, national systems for prevention, detection, referral and response to children victims of violence and abuse, exist. However, there are many gaps which prevent them from working as effectively as children need them to. One notable example is the frequent lack of coordination between different institutions, which leads to actions that are not in the best interest of the child, such as prolonged procedures and repetitive investigation of children victims of violence, and which can exacerbate already very stressful situations for children.

In such instances, even with the best intentions, inadequate response to cases of violence and abuse of children may leave negative effects on the child’s development. 

Children need a foundation for a fair chance, for every one of them to survive, thrive and reach their full potential

National systems and services for child protection need greater efficiency and action must be taken to support legislation that will stimulate better prevention, detection, referral and protection of children. This is particularly important for the quality and accessibility of the health and the education system and services.

Education on the importance of violence and abuse free environment for children is also lacking for both parents and children, as well as professionals that work with cases of violence against children.

The solution

UNICEF works to promote improved coordination of state institutions and community-based services towards better preventing, detecting, referring and responding to violence aimed at children, while also addressing legal, medical, psychological, educational and social needs of child victims of violence. We also work to support the development of a more efficient national legal framework.

We aim to support the establishment of an effective identification and referral process for violence against children, linking education, health, justice, police, social welfare and civil society organizations (CSOs). We support the development and implementation of positive parenting programmes and services to reinforce professionals working with children, parents and community members.

UNICEF is committed to assist in the reforms led by the Ministry of labour and social policy, to end unnecessary placement of children in institutional care and fulfil their right to grow up in a loving family.

We work to decrease the risk of abandonment and prevent placement of children in institutions. For that, we also need to create a child-care system that will push to keep families together wherever possible.