On November 19th 2013, Armenia’s Child Protection Network, a union of 16 NGOs, organised a press conference in Yerevan to mark the World Day for Prevention of Abuse and Violence against Children.
The network members and the Head of the 3rd Division of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police of RA invited journalists to a debate meant to raise awareness about the child abuse phenomenon in Armenia.
The scope of the meeting was to underline the fact that child abuse is a frequent phenomenon and there are no unified approaches to address this problem. Currently, corporal punishment is lawful in homes, alternative care settings and day care. It is considered unlawful, but not explicitly prohibited, in schools and penal institutions.
However, there are gaps in the law regulations and the law is not interpreted properly. The reason for this might be represented by the general acceptance of the phenomenon within society, which considers the use of corporal punishment a family matter.
Official data about child abuse cases registered in recent years across Armenia was presented during the conference. The surveys indicate that Armenia has a highest risk of physical abuse amongst boys aged 11-15.
The New National Program for the Protection of Children’s Rights for 2013-2016 is working to develop solutions to prevent child abuse phenomenon in Armenia. The Ministry of Labor and Social Issues committed itself to contribute to this initiative.
Civil society as a watchdog has the role of reviewing the ongoing processes and come up with relevant feedback on the effectiveness of these actions.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Issues, in collaboration of key partners, have already started to organize round table discussions on this topic. Eleven thematic working groups dedicated to the improvement of the reforming processes of social services for the upcoming perspectives already exist.
During the conference, Armenia’s Child Protection Network and its partner World Vision Armenia, stressed the key influence of community social workers and gave structural suggestions on rights and responsibilities of the community social worker.