UNICEF aims to protect all children from violence, exploitation and molestation
What we do?
The goal on which UNICEF tirelessly works upon is to ensure that children from all around the world can live in a safe, non-violent and caring environment. Words to live by are that children have to be protected from all forms of violence, exploitation, abuse and harmful practices.
Building on strategic partnerships and results achieved so far, focus of UNICEF is on:
- preventing child–family separation,
- improving alternative formal care options,
- protecting children from violence,
- ending harmful child marriage practices,
- strengthening justice for children.
In order to reach these goals quicker and more efficiently UNICEF works closely with the social welfare, family support and justice ministries and relevant nongovernmental and international partners. We work with these partners to strengthen the enabling environment, build capacity for quality services and empower children and their families to claim their rights.
Our field of work is aligned with international standards and national priorities, in particular with the National Strategy for Prevention and Protection of Children from Violence and the National Strategy for Protection of Victims of Crime.
To achieve the best outcome for every child we closely cooperate with other programmes addressing inclusive education, early childhood development, adolescent empowerment and child rights monitoring.
Every child has the right to grow up in a family environment. It is the best environment for children’s development, particularly during early childhood.
UNICEF aims to reduce violence at home, at school, in communities and online, and to break the silence around this hidden epidemic.
A justice system that is fully harmonised with the principle of the best interest of the child is essential for all children, particularly for those from vulnerable families.
There has been promising progress in child protection in Serbia, but despite a shift away from residential institutions and improvements in alternative family-based care options, the total number of children in care is increasing.
However, there are certain challenges on this path that have to be overcome.
- Violence prevention and response remain weak because of persistent social norms that ‘normalize’ violence. This is compounded by a lack of safe reporting mechanisms and comprehensive protection services. The reported number of domestic, peer and online violence cases still continues to increase.
- Court proceedings are increasingly long, secondary victimization protection measures are not systematically applied, and a growing number of children under the age of criminal responsibility, due to behavioural problems, are in conflict with the law. The principle of the best interests of the child has not yet been adequately integrated into decisions in civil court proceedings.
- Over 2/3 of children in institutions are children with disabilities and they are mostly placed in large-scale homes
- Around 1,000 children are separated every year from their birth families and placed into care.
In almost 1/4 of all cases of domestic violence the victims are children.
- 44% of boys and 42% of girls under the age of 14 have experienced violent methods of discipline at home.
- 57% of girls from Roma settlements are married before the age of 18 and almost 18% are married before the age of 15.
- Out of the total number of reported children in conflict with the law, diversionary measures are applied before criminal proceedings in only 9.5 % of cases.
Rights of children with disabilities
A good and functional system of social protection helps remove obstacles which prevent children and their families from access to their rights
Help for the Families
Families from Roma communities are informed about their rights and are given group and individual help in administrative procedures
Every child has the right to live in a family surrounding. Prevention and early intervention are a key factor in strenghtening a family.
The process of removing small children from residential institutions has started. To bolster this initiative, UNICEF provided technical support to expand foster care capacities and community-based services. In this way continuous family support should be ensured. Also we piloted the „Family Outreach Service“ so that the most vulnerable families with children can have access to intensive support.
UNICEF has supported the development of the national Preventing Violence against Children Strategy, which was adopted in 2020 by the Government.
We have worked to highlight the issue of child marriage, resulting in the establishment of the National Coalition to End Child Marriage and the integration of child marriage indicators into the social welfare data-management system.
Also UNICEF’s support to the justice system to protect the most vulnerable children has resulted in increased application of diversionary measures.