On the occasion of the Plenary Session where the debate on Domestic Violence and Institutional Addressing was held, KOMF has addressed a document to the Deputies of Kosovo Assembly on this matter.
The document describes the basic rights of children to grow without violence and in a safe environment, their current situation in relation to violence and various forms of use and its level. At the same time, it provides an overview of some of the most important aspects to be considered when developing and implementing policies, providing concrete recommendations on how to achieve these goals.
According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, 61.4% of children in Kosovo have confirmed the experiences of physical / psychological violence within the family environment during the last month of the interview. 59% of children have been subjected to psychological violence, while 24% of children have suffered physical retribution. It is strongly recommended national level awareness to the wider population and child protection institutions to promote positive methods of parenting and discipline and to eliminate violent methods of discipline and corporal punishment.
Violence and corporal punishment of children in Kosovo remains a social norm accepted and applied by our parents and society. Our society considers violence as a method that serves the education and discipline of children. It is noted that up to a certain level, physical violence is justified by the children themselves, being seen more as a form of discipline.
Kosovo has made it compulsory for all state officials and professionals with the duty to care for children – in the sectors of health, education and justice – to report allegations of violence to the appropriate Centre for Social Work or to Kosovo’s police authorities. Despite this requirement, referrals from these institutions remain very low, especially in cases of violence in schools. It is recommended that Kosovo introduce trainings and awareness actions to remind state officials and professionals of their duty of care to report situations of alleged violence against children.
Children mostly have information on physical violence, as they have little information on psychological violence, sexual abuse, and its consequences, while neglect remains a completely unknown notion for them. It is recommended violence awareness activities that will enable children to recognize the types of violence in general.
Some of the most flagrant consequences of violence may be as follow: Death as the most extreme consequence of violence; Serious bodily harm, Serious physical illness; Cognitive development; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to violence experienced continuously during childhood; Other forms of disorders such as depression, anxiety disorder, nutritional disorders etc. Behavioral difficulties which may be reflected in later years and during adulthood in these children. They may include alcohol use, substance abuse, and involvement in high-risk sexual activities. Empirical data point to a greater risk for these children to conflict with the law and become teenage parents.
Regarding the rehabilitation and reintegration of child victims of violence, the current budget allocated by the government and the municipalities is insufficient to guarantee protection and quality services to children who are victims of various forms of violence. The current level of funding does not meet even the needs that these services require to be at the optimum level of functioning. In response to the number of children in need of care and services, many shelters and day care centers that are part of the non-governmental sector are faced with existential security or financial sustainability by endangering the closure of these services. Children who benefit from services are obliged to transfer from one form of care to another, which constitutes a serious violation of the child’s rights because this may have a negative impact on their physical and psychological development.
Every child has the right to his physical and personal integrity and protection from all forms of violence. Kosovo has the responsibility to protect children from violence, abuse, neglect and to guarantee that their rights are protected, based on the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, local legislation in Kosovo, which is in full compliance with the requirements of the highest international legal acts.