Ending violence against children
Protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse
Violence has a devastating impact on children. In addition to the immediate risks to their lives and physical health, violence threatens their emotional well-being and future prospects.
Violence can also be passed from one generation to the next because children who experience violence may see it as ‘normal’.
In Tajikistan, the scale of violence against children is vastly underestimated, partially because prevalence estimates come from administrative data used by the health or justice systems and partly because of the widespread beliefs that lead people to see violence as a norm rather than a problem demanding attention. A striking number of children are victims or witnesses of various forms of violence in various settings, including homes, alternative care settings, schools and detention facilities.
A recent study carried in several districts found that violence is a widespread form of disciplinary punishment within communities around the country. There are accounts of severe punishment of children, often involving severe physical violence against children with twigs or belts; accounts of children who were not given food until they completed household work (washing clothes or looking after the cattle), or of girls not being allowed to attend school if they “argued with other girls” or “fell in love”. The study also indicated that some families oblige their own children to do heavy work for them, steal from shops or get engaged and/or marry as children.
Bullying is also another widespread form of violence, especially in schools.
Only a few teachers recognized bullying as a serious issue in their own schools. Boys who are younger or from lower socio-economic statuses are most likely to be bulled. In some communities, bullying is often directed at children from minority ethnic groups residing in those areas.
UNICEF is determined to tackle violence against children, recognizing that this is everybody’s business. It supports measures to prevent and respond to violence against children in Tajikistan, breaking the silence on this hidden issue and transforming attitudes that allow it to persist.
UNICEF is working closely with its counterparts from the Government to advocate prevention and eradication of violence around the country by shaping policies related to children, supporting the capacity building efforts of key government actors, such as the Ombudsmen for Child Rights, and working directly with communities around the country in order to raise awareness and prevent violence against children in all forms.
UNICEF and a civil society partner have launched a pilot programme to promote the prevention of violence against children and adolescents in Tajikistan, following joint formative research on violence against children in pilot communities.
The project is intended to improve parents’ and teachers’ capacities to bring up and educate children and adolescents without violence, through better communication and socialization. Evidence provided by this program will support further work in the country to end violence against children, potentially scale up the intervention and replicate successful efforts to eradicate violence.