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Promote prevention and protection of children from violence
Belgrade, November 21, 2016 – On the day marking the Universal Children's Day, Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia (MODS) is calling attention to the fact that mechanisms for the protection of children in Serbia are not fully effective. Neglect, misuse, abuse, and violence threaten physical, psychological and sexual integrity of the child, which leads to a violation of one of the basic human right that has been raised to the level of principle in the Convention on the Rights of the Child - the right to life, survival and development. Recent studies indicate an increase in the so-called “new forms of violence” - peer and digital violence. Due to the more intensive use of information and communication technologies, children are more frequently becoming victims of digital violence in various forms. The number of reports of violence against children has increased as well. During 2015, centers for social work in Serbia received 6,520 reports of violence against children. According to the type of violence, reports were mostly related to neglect of children (2,890), followed by physical violence (1,772), psychological violence (1,551), sexual violence (115), and economic violence against children (45). The occurrences of labor exploitation and child trafficking are also on the rise.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted General Protocol on the Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect in 2005, as a national mechanism for the protection of children from violence. In partnership with UNICEF, and in collaboration with a research organization SeConS with the support of the EU, MODS conducted a national survey which showed that in Serbia there are only 10 local protocols on the protection of children from violence which govern the implementation of the General Protocol on the Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect, i.e. protocols that primarily regulate cooperation of institutions in cases of abuse and neglect of children.
MODS calls on the competent ministries and local governments to, in the coming period, approach the creation and adoption of:
- National Strategy for the prevention and protection of children from violence, and to adopt an Action Plan for its implementation;
- To make the implementation of the General Protocol and sector-specific protocols binding, with the adoption of bylaws which will guarantee this obligation;
- To increase the number of signed agreements on intersectoral cooperation at the local level in the implementation of the General Protocol on the Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect;
- To make civil society organizations dealing with children’s rights signatory parties to the agreement at the local level, and active participants in the process of protecting children.
Recognizing and advocating for the introduction of new sources of support directed toward the protection of children, MODS calls on the Government of the Republic of Serbia to join the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Program (2014-2020), given that promotion and protection of children's rights and prevention of, and fight against, all forms of violence against children, young people and women are recognized as objectives of this EU Program. In this way, another mechanism for the effective protection of children shall be established.