Skopje, 29 November 2019 - At the closing ceremony of a two-day High-Level Conference: Scaling up action to end violence against children in the Western Balkans, five Government ministers - Interior, Justice, Health, Education and Science, and Labor and Social Policy - signed a formal pledge to join the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
"We commend the Government for this important pledge to join 26 other member states in the Global partnership. Working to end violence against children is essentially working to ensure that every child is protected from violence at home, at school and in the community," said UNICEF Representative, Patrizia Di Giovanni.
With this pledge, North Macedonia will become the twenty seventh path finding country in the global partnership and undertake concrete actions to progressively end violence against children by 2022.
"I am convinced that with this commitment, together we will jointly develop better solutions to protect children and prevent violence against children," said Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski, during a pledge signing ceremony.
"It is crucial to protect children from revictimization during legal proceeding - regardless of how they came in contact with the law - because children are often already traumatized," said Minister of Justice, Renata Deskoska.
"Prerequisites for preventing violence against children are unconditional love from parents and respect for children as individuals. If we address adverse childhood experiences, we can prevent the intergenerational transmission of violence," said Minister of Health, Venko Filipce.
"It depends on us as individuals, but also on us with our collective consciousness and awareness. Always, politicians carry a great responsibility, because we manage the institutions of the system, we participate in the creation and implementation of national policies and influence the social climate," said Minister of Education and Science, Arber Ademi.
"When the whole society helps parents raise healthy children - children who are given support for their development - we create prosperity for a more advanced, stronger, more successful and safer society,” said Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mila Carovska.
The two-day conference was officially opened by the head of state, President Stevo Pendarovski: "Our response to combat violence against children must be comprehensive. We need joint action by all of us, by line ministries, social services, educational institutions and civil society. We need integrated solutions, a common approach to this problem that affects all of us."
As a partner in promoting the rights of children, the Head of the European Union Delegation, Samuel Zbogar emphasized: "As adults we have a responsibility and a duty to listen and take children seriously. To address children at risk of violence is to ensure that they are aware of their rights.”
Centred on three themes - prevent, heal, react - the conference was an opportunity for the Government to come together with international experts and representatives of institutions and civil society from Serbia, Montenegro and Albania, as well as national experts and practitioners from patronage service, kindergartens and schools and the social sector
A session focused on prevention and ending the intergenerational transmission of violence, opened discussion on the importance of screening for adverse childhood experiences, parenting programs, the role of primary care providers and specialized trauma prevention services.
Recognizing that children who experience trauma and are exposed to violence and other adversities struggle to learn and develop, the conference dedicated a session to schools, kindergartens and other educational programs ability to respond to trauma and actions to help children flourish by reducing the effects of adversity.
Lastly, despite ongoing efforts, given the continued prevalence of violence against children, a session dedicated to targeted response had speakers emphasising the need for equipped systems to connect child victims to effective integrated response services – so that they are protected and receive the support they need to reduce toxic stress.
During the conference, children and young people inspired with their own call to action. Youth dance troupe "Beatrix Crew" opened the conference with a powerful dance interpretation of the harmful effects of violence on children. The interpretation reinforcing that keeping silent on violence only causes more pain, shame and helplessness. Closing the conference, the "Kuzman Josifovski Pitu" children choir’s in harmony sang out the lyrics “I won’t be silenced” as a reminder to everyone to raise their voice to end violence.
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.mk.