Source: Child Protection Network, Armenia
On November 19, in commemoration of the World day for Prevention of Child Abuse, the Armenian Child Protection Network (CPN) participated at a press conference organized at Media Center. CPN was represented by Mira Antonyan (President of the board and FAR Children’s Support Center), Knarik Garanfilyan (President of “Family and Community” NGO), Syuzanne Badeyan (SOS Children’s Villages) and other coalition members. Representative of RA police also participated in the press conference.
Mira Antonyan stated that a concept paper on combating child abuse has been approved by RA government, but no other progress has been recorded so far. Relevant procedures enforcing the implementation of the concept paper have not been developed. There are no mechanisms of cooperation related to such cases among stakeholders. Job descriptions of teachers, nurses, other specialists working with children do not include the responsibility of alarming relevant authorities about these cases, when for instance a child comes to school with bruises, ragged and with inappropriate clothes.
“The problem of violence is mostly in the social field, not in the criminal one. But in our country the only way of intervention is mostly conducted by the police. This shows there is no balance in our social field and the bodies ensuring social protection have not undertaken their functions fully”, said M. Antonyan.
Mrs Antonyan highlighted that in 2015 FAR Children’s Support Center has provided shelter to 160 children who have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse, many of them being also neglected. The problem of abuse is still there, it is not reduced and takes new forms conditioned by increase of poverty.
Syuzanne Badeyan noted that abuse takes a number of forms simultaneously, for instance if there is a physical violence it’ll always connected with emotional abuse.
“Emotional abuse can have damaging effects. By emotional abuse we mean continued insults of the child, isolation of the child as a punishment, mocking, putting high demands and continuous criticism of the child. As a result, the child becomes an adult with lack of confidence, not sufficient emotional development and is not able to build relationships”.
Mrs Badeyan presented a typical case of emotional abuse. “Mother expressed openly that her child was not desirable for her, that she did not love her. Later, the mother complained that child is out of control and behaves very badly. However, children cannot change their behavior, they cannot overcome these complexes formed in the early stages of their childhood”, said Mrs Badeyan.
Knarik Garanfilyan pointed out that in the communities at first level it’s the responsibility of the Guardianship and Trusteeship Committees to ensure child protection. But these committees mostly do not have relevant professional skills, resources and operate on voluntary basis. They should reveal cases of child abuse and provide support.
“CPN member organizations have established daycare centers, where there are both social workers, pedagogues, and psychologists who provide consultancy and other support. These day care centers not only prevent, but also conduct rehabilitation activities. We should remember that support is needed not only by the victim, but also by the abuser”, continued Garanfilyan.
These centers provide multi-services. Social, psychological and work is conducted not only with children but also with parents, as child abuse is mostly perceived as a method of bringing up a child. Representative of RA police presented statistics, “In 2015, 154 cases of child abuse have been recorded, as compared to 152 of the previous year. Eleven cases have been conducted in the family, while last year we had eight such cases”.
One of the best methods to prevent child abuse is to improve parenting skills and increase rehabilitation activities. RA legislation provides for the possibility of limitation or deprivation of parents’ rights in case of child abuse, but it is not applied. On the other hand, international best practice shows that an intermediate phase is needed. During this phase rehabilitation activities will be conducted with the family.
Exhibition “Environment without abuse for children”
“Environment without abuse for children” exhibition was organised in the occasion the World day for Prevention of Child Abuse. The opening of the exhibition took place in the open-air in front of the Yerevan State University.
Pictures made by beneficiary-children of a number of member organizations of CPN were presented at the exhibition. In addition, pictures painted by children of Vardashen N1 boarding school were also presented.
Through pictures children expressed their perception of environment where there is abuse or not. The exhibition aimed to draw public attention to the problem of child abuse and involve children by giving them opportunity to express their views about this issue.