The present report is is based on the experiences of more than 600 professionals in Albania, Bosnia
and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia and Turkey who regularly come into contact with children who
have been exposed to violence.
Violence against children in this region is widespread, under-reported and extremely damaging to children. Despite increasing political attention and the development of appropriate services, child victims are not systematically identified and provided with appropriate responses. The main finding of the research is that, in spite of the many recent changes in policy, legislation and practices to improve the responses to violence, the capacity of systems to address violence against children remains limited. Moreover, there is an absence of clear legal definitions of what constitutes violence – particularly in the case of physical violence, which is sometimes seen as a justified method of disciplining children.
Based on the findings of this study, UNICEF recommends that governments:
- develop clear legal definitions of what constitutes violence against children;
- engage in public debate to build understanding and consensus around the issue;
- establish comprehensive cross-sectoral legislation and implementation guidelines that define roles and responsibilities for management of cases of violence against children;
- expand capacity of services, in particular of family support interventions endorsed by professionals;
- strengthen monitoring, follow-up and information exchange systems.