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






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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 Residential Facilities

No one knows exactly how many children are in residential placements in Europe and Central Asia. The best estimates put the figure at around 1 million, but different standards and methods of compiling data make comparisons between countries very difficult.

And the classic picture of the child who has lost his or her parents and lives in a children’s home is far from accurate. There are all sorts of reasons why children find themselves in a residential facility: their parents may be ill or temporarily unable to look after them, they may be the children of asylum-seekers, they might be held in police custody or prison, or they may have learning and physical disabilities.

Lack of data makes it difficult to assess the extent that children face violence in institutions, but increasing evidence of abuses and reports by child-care organizations are raising concerns that children – doubly vulnerable because they are alone in a strange environment – are clearly at risk. And according to the background paper for consideration at the Consultation, “… from the United Kingdom to Uzbekistan, abuse of one form or another is taking place on a significant scale”.

The facts

- Cases of abuse in institutions have come to light all over the region. Ongoing investigations in Ireland and Portugal testify to sexual, physical and mental abuse over decades: in Ireland, the Government-established Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse received 3,000 complaints, 60 per cent of them from people over 50 who had been abused as children in residential care.
- In Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova there is no explicit ban on corporal punishment in institutions.
- According to NGO reports on the situation of children’s rights, 80 per cent of children in boarding schools are treated cruelly in Kazakhstan, while in Albania orphans are reported to “often become victims of physical abuse”.
- Residential homes are often inadequate, unhygienic with poor heating and a lack of nutritious food.
- Much violence takes place amongst children themselves. A UK study on violence amongst children in residential care shows that half of the reported cases were between children including high-impact physical violence, such as knife attacks to kicks and punches, half were non-contact, such as vandalism and threats.
- Young people are often kept in custody with adults: according to the German National Coalition for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is evidence of threat, blackmail and even rape. The Council of Europe’s Anti-Torture Committee? noted that custodial staff have been seen to punch, kick or hit young people with batons in Croatia.
- There is evidence of police officers ill-treating children and young people in police custody in Albania, France, Georgia, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
- Children from ethnic minorities are over-represented in care and custody. According to the World Bank, as many as 40 per cent of institutionalized children in Romania are Roma, even though Roma account for just 10 per cent of the overall population.

What is being done?

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child puts governments firmly in charge of protecting children in care and bans the arbitrary imprisonment of children. It also stipulates that children should be treated sensitively and separated from adults in custody.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has adopted a recommendation setting out children’s rights in residential institutions, including the right to a non-violent upbringing.

The European Union has passed a directive that child asylum-seekers be placed with adult relatives, a foster family or specially-designed centres in order to ensure their protection.

The Council of Europe’s Anti-Torture Committee* has a mandate to inspect places where young people are detained.

An increasing number of States are recognizing the problems and are undertaking or allowing investigations into conditions and concerns about violence in residential facilities of all kinds.

How do we go forward?

- Ban corporal punishment and humiliating treatment in institutions worldwide;
- Set regulations on allowed and banned forms of discipline and punishment;
- Set basic guidelines on care provision;
- Set up anti-bullying strategies in all residential settings;
- Screen staff working with children, but also provide them with proper training and appropriate working conditions;
- Provide education, recreation, nutritious food, health care and contact with the outside world to help stop frustrations among children;
- Ensure that children are in a position to express concerns or complaints about their treatment without fear of retribution;
- Develop non-residential alternatives to care and correction placements.


Alternative Report for the Situation of Children’s Rights and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Albania, CRCA, ACRN, Tirana, August 2004.

Alternative Report of Non-Governmental Organizations of Kazakhstan, Almaty, 2002.

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment/Inf (2001) 4.

Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations on the 30 countries in the region reviewed since 2002.

Supplementary Report of the National Coalition, National Coalition for Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Germany.

Cawson, P., Berridge, D., Barter, C., and Renold, E., Physical and Sexual Violence amongst Children in Residential Settings: Exploring Experiences and Perspectives, University of Luton and NSPCC, January 2001.

Tobis, D., Moving from Residential Institutions to Community-Based Social Services in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, The World Bank, 2000.

UNHCR, July 2003.

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