Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children
. 5 - 7 July 2005 Ljubljana, Slovenia  
Europe and Central Asia






More information


by setting:

by organization:






Communication kit

A Communication Kit has been designed by UNICEF and the Council of Europe for the Regional Consultation on Violence Against Children in Europe and Central Asia, 5-7 July, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Violence in Residential Facilities
Violence in the Community
Violence in Schools
Violence in the Home and Family

Who we are
Changing attitudes
About the UN Study
What you can do


Child's drawing, UNICEF Moldova
Ion Sestacovschi, 9 years old

Violence in the Community

The world is a dangerous place for an unprotected child. Studies show that not one single country is exempt from violence in the community – although measuring the extent is difficult.

Poverty, crime and exploitation are everyday facts for many of the region’s children. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia there are special risks: poverty creates a fertile ground for crime and pushes children and young people out onto the street or into cruel or illegal work, and many are attracted to violent and criminal gangs. Killings and wounding are rising steeply, especially in Eastern Europe. Other children make their homes on the street and live from begging or prostitution, suffering violence from customers or the police. Poverty leads to exploitation, with organized crime profiting from misery by trafficking children for sexual exploitation or to work alongside criminals.

Even in the most structured areas of community life there can be hidden dangers. Children face violence in leisure time, in clubs and even in religious settings, such as churches. They can be made to train too hard or diet too much for sports performance, or face corporal punishment or sexual abuse by trainers or carers.

The facts

Statistics on violence in the community are difficult to find. More data is needed to help governments to act. The extent of trafficking and child sexual exploitation is still being investigated, and crime statistics only reveal the cases that come to light. The following figures aim to give a general picture of the situation.

- Gang violence has risen steeply in Eastern Europe. In the Russian Federation, homicide rates for young people aged 10-24 rose by over 150 per cent after the collapse of communism. Shootings more than doubled in Azerbaijan, Latvia and the Russian Federation.
- In the Netherlands, in 1995, young people aged 15-17 were four times more likely than adults to be victims of assault.
- In Bremen (Germany), gang violence accounts for almost half of reported violent offences.
- Of the estimated 10,000-16,000 on the streets of St. Petersburg, half are under 13 years. Around 10 to 30 per cent of them are particularly exposed to violence because they are involved in criminal activities, such as trafficking drugs or stolen goods; about 20 per cent of those under 18 earn a living from prostitution.
- Police routinely round up street children, and detain and charge them with minor offences.
- Forced labour is common in the cotton fields of Central Asia. Inhumane conditions are faced by child workers in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
- The London police identified 14 children who had been trafficked for domestic slavery in 2003.
- Some Albanian and Romanian children are brought to Western Europe to work with criminal gangs for burglaries and other crimes.
- Since 1995, over 5,000 cases of child abuse by Catholic clergy have been reported worldwide. Thirty priests have been convicted of sexual abuse in France in recent years, 21 cases were recorded in the United Kingdom between 1995 and 1999, and 13 cases between 1994 and 2001 in Germany.
- Expert reports estimate that about 20 per cent of young people involved in sport are at risk from abuse, and about 10 per cent are actual victims.

What is being done?

International treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights, set out ways to protect children – including their right to life and to family life.

Conventions by the International Labour Organization (ILO) aim to stamp out cruel forms of child labour such as sale and trafficking, prostitution, and working in the army, in dangerous industries or forced labour.

The Council of Europe’s most recent convention aims to stop trafficking. Its Cybercrime Convention gives police means to work cross-border to stop child pornography sites.

The United Kingdom has opened the first unit to protect children in sport, and the Football Association has set up an Ethics Strategy Group to tackle the problem.

How do we go forward?

- Governments must put into practice the measures they have agreed to in the various international treaties.

- Charges such as vagrancy, prostitution and loitering should be decriminalized for children.

- Sexual exploitation and possession of child pornography must be criminalized.

- Governments must bring in extraterritoriality principles, allowing their nationals to be prosecuted for sex crimes committed abroad.

- Police should be trained to consider and respect children’s rights, and handle their cases with particular sensitivity.

- Anyone who works with children should be checked beforehand to ensure they have no history of criminal violence.

- Measures against child labour should be designed in a way that takes into account all factors and that prioritizes policies to end poverty.

- Action against trafficking – both national and international – should take into account children’s special needs

- Rich countries should immediately increase international aid to reduce poverty.


WHO, World Report on Violence and Health, Geneva, 2002.

Ashagrie, K., Statistics on Working Children and Hazardous Child Labour in Brief, ILO, Geneva, 1998.

ILO/IPEC, Romania. Working Street Children in Bucharest: A Rapid Assessment, Geneva, 2002.

ILO/IPEC, In-depth analysis of the situation of Working Street Children in St. Petersburg 2000, St. Petersburg, 2001; In-depth analysis of the situation of Working Street Children in the Leningrad Region 2001, St. Petersburg, 2002; In-depth analysis of the situation of Working Street Children in Moscow 2001, Moscow, 2002.

Report by Mr. Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights, on his visits to the Russian Federation, 15 to 30 July 2004, 19 to 29 September 2004, Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 20 April 2005, CommDH (2005) 2.

The International Crisis Group, The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia’s Destructive Monoculture, Asia Report No. 93, 28 February 2005.

Human Rights Watch, Children of Bulgaria: Police Violence and Arbitrary Confinement, 1996; Human Rights Watch, Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child for its Day of General Discussion on State Violence Against Children, September 22, 2000.

David, P., Human Rights in Youth Sport: A Critical Review of Children's Rights in Competitive Sport, Routledge, London, 2005, pp. 92-101.

Morello, Sara E., 'The Vatican and Clergy Sexual Abuse,


Printable Version





... ....... ..WHO ......... .UNICEF,

Government of Slovenia.........OHCHR.OHCHR........NGO logo