World children's day: children takeover the Serbian Parliament

20 November 2017
Primary school girl talking in the Parliament
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Vas

Belgrade, 20 November 2017 – The voices of children were clearly heard in the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia today, as part of the World Children's Day celebrations.

Children took over the Parliament and presented the conclusions from a participatory process, in which children, including particularly vulnerable children, expressed their opinions about how they perceive the problem of violence and how to prevent it.

Children addressed representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, including the Minister of Labour Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Zoran Djordjevic, the Minister without portfolio responsible for demography and population policy, Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, as well as UNICEF Representative in Serbia, Michel Saint-Lot, the Council for the Rights of the Child, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Office of the Commissioner for Equality, the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia, and other bodies and institutions that are responsible for ensuring that every child in Serbia is safe and protected from violence.

Minister Djukic Dejanovic stated that we should all try to detect, and then report violence, which is happening all around us. While talking with the children in Parliament, Minister Djordjevic called for an end to violence, while UNICEF Representative in Serbia, Michel Saint-Lot, said that UNICEF, together with all relevant institutions, will intensify its fight to end peer violence.

Conclusions of the participatory process show that:

• Children recognise their family members, mostly parents, as the most important actors in the prevention and protection against violence;
• Although children identified members of the police as important actors in the prevention and protection against violence, 53.3% of the children stated that they would not call the police in case they witnessed a situation involving violence on the street;

More than 50% of children ask for help when they are victims of violence, while 36.7% of children say they resolve the problem by themselves.

Children’s Recommendations on How to Prevent Violence:

• Organise more workshops and trainings for children, parents and teachers to prevent violence more efficiently. If, nevertheless, violence occurs, it is necessary to quickly recognise it, respond to it, and protect children from violence;
• Empower children to recognise and report violence to parents, police, teachers, school staff, and other trusted persons;
• It is important that the police, school employees, parents and other adults act appropriately and promptly when violence occurs or when a child reports violence;

Banning the use of mobile phones in schools, responding to online violence, and being careful about content that is posted online are ways to prevent digital violence.

This initiative was carried out by the Friends of Children of Serbia, and as part of the process of developing a National strategic framework for the prevention and protection of children against violence.

UNICEF and the Friends of Children of Serbia are working together to enable children to articulate their voices and take them into account in the process of developing the National strategic framework for prevention and protection of children from violence, which was initiated by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.

The initiative is an integral part of the "Protecting children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey" project, funded by the European Union, and implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, and UNICEF.

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