28.04.2005 | Vladimir Goncharov, Lugansk

Social-legal protection of family, children and youth: ways, form and methods of the solution at the regional level


Experience in social work is formed with years. And, certainly, there is no place for indifference, complacency, and heartlessness. The compassion to adolescents must prevail there, but not connivance and permissiveness. We taught our children to be dependent and irresponsible for their behavior. In Western countries children, as a rule, start to earn their living when they are about fourteen years old, so they learn the life, become adapted to it. And they do not grow like spiders-bloodsucker on the necks of their parents. Well, look at behavior of our minors, their attitude to parents: mother is turned into a pitiful servant, who cannot please her son or daughter. And the more we move away from the age of children’s ingenuousness, the greater is our dissatisfaction by our children, by their outlooks, morals and ideals. Now young people have become more pragmatic, more liberated, more intolerant to any kind of pressure. There is significant number of young people, who have disappointed in the life, from which they do not expect anything good.

The children, who are deprived of maternal love and joy, kindness and respect, cannot find their place in the adult life, even the teenagers. And the minors of 13-17 years old, alas, bring more distress than pleasure.

During the past year about 10 thousand minors-vagrants were taken to militia stations throughout Ukraine.

Almost every 45 minutes one person commits suicide somewhere in Ukraine. They decide on suicide because of the feeling of hopelessness, feebleness, fault, humbleness, etc. The minors have got lost in the dusk of our carelessness.

According to the information of the UNICEF (the UNO children’s foundation), in 9 out of 27 countries one third of children (144 millions out of 44 millions) in 2001-2002 lived under the conditions of absolute poverty: low income, poor nourishment, diseases, absence of access to basic services. This situation resulted in great quantity of children in boarding schools, growth of alcoholism among young people and many other negative phenomena.

In Ukraine the overwhelming majority of boys and girls (73%) live in families with low material level (by the data of the WHO). The UNICEF doubts about the “necessity of economic growth, if it is not of use of children” and is connected with ascertainment of the reasons of “inability of a number of countries to measure systematically the level of children’s poverty, which is a critical index of success or insolvency of social-economic politics”.

1. Knowledge of legislative base

During the past 5 years more than 160 Edicts of the President of Ukraine and decrees of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of questions of state policy were issued, Civil and Family Codes were adopted, and the words “family” and “children” were added to the name of the corresponding state committee. The upper age limits were established: 18 years old for children and 35 – for youth.

Tens of new terms (such as, for example, “social accompaniment”, “social inspection”, “mobile consultation center”,  “juridical clinic”, “crisis center” etc.) were introduced.

Yet, in our opinion:

-  The inner world of minors and youths does not accept the existing approaches in education;

-  The same stereotype actions are organized from year to year: the year of volunteer movement, the year of family and so on;

-  Parents, youths and minors (and, to be frank, even teachers) do not understand the essence, goals and specifics of the work of youth departments of the local organs of state power and self-government;

-  There is no distinct delimitation and separation of power between structures;

-  Mentality of “Komsomol-youth” departments remains invariable, everybody works only “from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.” All these services do not pass on to other forms of work.



-  Whereas in Europe 60 % of minors of 15 years old smoke or smoked before, and every 10th girl and every 5th boy among minors of 11 years old, in Ukraine -- every 5th and every 2nd. The age of the beginning of sexual life have also decreased.

-  35% of boys and 15 % of girls in Ukraine tasted marijuana. The frequency of poisoning with alcohol increased by more than 2.5 during 1989-2002.

2.  Enlightenment, consultation and explanation must be the main tasks, but not moral admonition, pressure and compulsion.

It is necessary:

-  to help the minors to take the correct decisions in their life.

-  to show the real consequences of negative deeds;

-  to teach the life without conflicts, to nip in the bud aggression and violence;

-  to familiarize minors with the Criminal Code of Ukraine (reasons and terms of deprivation of liberty);

-  social advertising should be active and comprehensible.


-  During 10 months of the current year the number of minors in the Lugansk region has become 11% less.

-  The number of minors registered in militia service in charge of minors has become 50% more.

-  The number of applications about going away from families and special educational establishments has grown from 541 to 711.

-  17 minors were not found.

-  Since November 2002 the all-Ukrainian phone help-line (8-800-500-80) functions at the State committee in charge of family and youth. But where a minor can find this phone number? Who knows it?

Every day, every hour we must persuade young people that it is better not to fight with each other, but for each other

3. The list of basic problems, ways, forms and methods of this solution.

-  The power is far from the real problems and needs of family, children and youth.

-  The professional level of personnel working with this category is extremely low.

-  The main acute problem is that nobody analyzes and forecasts.

-  As a rule, a child from bad family passes the following way: special establishment for babies -- children’s home – boarding school -- trade school – and the life, most frequently without job and habitation.

The problem of adoption demands special attention. The data on adoption in Ukraine are adduced in the table:




By Ukrainian citizens



2-3 times

By foreigners



5 times

One of the hardest problems today is the fact that mothers do not want to bring up their own children. As it is known, a home stands not on the land but on mother. And when such concepts as beauty, spirituality and kindness are not absorbed with mother’s milk, then the verb “to love” means only “to sleep with somebody in one bed”, the phrase “to achieve success” means “to do everything in spite of other people”. And then it is not a sin to steal, to kill, to deceive one’s neighbor. The children are not guilty of this situation, because these are their parents, who speak with them in incorrect language, and children’s comprehension remains on the primitive level, they despair of the possibility to find a way out.

Our second principle is not to hinder, not to command and not to direct orders to educational establishments. Instead of this, at the September seminar of social teachers of the Leninskiy district, we proposed our recommendations on about 20 forms of work for their educational establishments.


4. To increase the role of family and family education.

Preparation to family life.

To start from ourselves:

-  To read the Family Code of Ukraine.

-  To change cardinally our own attitude to our children and parents.

-  To increase the role of fathers in families.


-  Only 40% of families have children. Almost 80% of children are born in young families. There is one million of childless spouses in Ukraine. Every second family divorces (among them – 50% lived together less than 5 years). Every sixth family is not complete. The number of common-law marriages is growing.

The situation with violence is terrible. The official complaint handed to militia evidence that physical violence is regarded by many people (about a half) as the universal method of settling conflicts. 39% of respondents stated that they would keep together, even if the actions of their friends would be illegal.

-  40% of women complain against men’s tyranny, and 12% of men – against women’s.

Out of 82.5 thousand home violators in Ukraine are registered by militia:

-  20 thousand – for physical violence;

-  5 thousand – for psychological violence;

-  1.2 thousand – for economic violence;

-  78 thousand – for sexual violence.

26 thousand of cases of violence out of 82.5 were registered during this year, and 9% of victims were young girls. Reasons of home violence:

-  34% -- hard drinking;

-  31% -- stealing of home utensils, unemployment, material debts;

-  60% of victims were drunk too.

5. To teach youth to create their non-governmental organizations

Because of objective reasons the state structures are not able to solve the considered problems without active participation of every of us. It is necessary to rake the numerous abatis that have been heaped on in the sphere of childhood.


-  From 5 to 8% of youth leaves Ukraine every year.

-  More than 50% of youth take no interest in politics.

-  Every third young person at the age from 18 to 23 does not work and do not study.

6. The most important task is to turn our face to minors, to their problems, internal world, spiritual state.

-  It is necessary to learn to forgive for our own sake and, of course for the sake of those, who are good to us. Possibly, this would help us to free ourselves from the feeling of resentment, hate or revenge.

-  We must respect those, who do not observe our rules. At the same time we must learn to explain, why the traditions and rules of normal life are valuable and efficacious, to identify the destructing actions and to turn them into constructive ones, to persuade such people to become a part of our group, our common line, the territory, where we are living.

Statistical data on the persons, who turned to the Social Center for youth of the Leninskiy district, Lugansk





9 months of 2004













Among them:  

- pupils of schools

- pupils of trade schools











Students of higher education establishments









Main questions and problems




9 months of 2004







Violations of human rights





Social protection





Housing problems and subsidies





Defense of rights in court









There is not doubt about the necessity to persuade that the prison system does not reform. It only serves for restriction of liberty. Yet, penitentiaries change many people psychologically, and these changes are not always positive.

Were often, talking with those, who have released from custody, I heard that they were reappraising the sufferings and ordeals that occurred to them. I heard that in the Perevalska colony, especially at individual receptions. One convicts said to me that he wanted to die, because his death would recompense everything he had done.

Father of one incarcerated said with annoyance: “Nobody visited him, nobody phoned him, nobody supported him either before, or during, or after the trial”. And he accessed this silence as indirect denunciation of the crime of his son even before the trial, and I – as the complete indifference to the boy, who had taken a false step.

After the release the former prisoners, who have become adult and become acquainted with life, who have lost social and friendly relations, do not get any social and moral help from the power organs and become social outcasts.

Working in the sphere of social accompaniment, I understood that if a young man does not want to change, then it is his own choice. First of all, because he is left on his own, does not get any support for adaptation in our difficult reality. Outside the penal colony, without money, job, dwelling and documents (plus the permanently indifferent attitude of state structures), without psychological aid and unwillingness to contact with workers of social services these people, as a rule, commit a crime again. That happens with every fourth former prisoner in our district. Of course, more than a half of them do not want to come to our center. One of the main reasons is that, being in institution of confinement, they did not get enough information about existence, goals and tasks of the centers of social accompaniment.

Every region should determine the complex of problems, which such young people can confront, to look for the ways for solution of these problems and to answer the questions of the youths.

It would be possible to change the situation, if the youth policy would be directed at liquidation of direct causes of the heavy state of “unmanageable children” and inadequate protection of children, at the use of address approaches positively influencing evolution and protection of children.

Cooperation with businessmen may be useful for solution of these problems. Only in our district businessmen maintain monthly 18 orphans and 7 handicapped children.


Project "Uslysh menia!" (“Hear me!”)

Recently new Ukrainian site appeared in the Internet:, which is dedicated to adolescents, who serve sentence in penitentiaries establishments. It is addressed to their contemporaries, who stay at large. Every letter, which is placed on the site, concerns fates of those, whose childhood has finished in the colony. Maybe the changes in our society and economic problems made us more callous, so we – all our society, did not give enough cordiality to these children of heat. And they appeared in the most terrible place – behind the bars. It is painful to read the letters of these adolescents; however, it is necessary to reflect on these grievous lines. And these confessions should not frighten away – souls of these children need the support, and others should understand what would be the results of transgression of law.


Dmitry B., 15 years old. A person, who was not there, would not comprehend anything, despite all explanations. I have understood only now that I am a child yet, and that I need liberty as every child. Even a bird cannot live in a cage for a long time.

Ruslan L., 16 years old. Just there, in the colony, I said to my mother for the first time that I loved her. And we cried together.

Vika L., 17 years old. I want very much to turn to you. Maybe, you are even older than me, and maybe, my friend, you are younger, and I would have time to caution you against future mistakes. Word of honor, I want to do that very much. I think that if I knew about responsibility, then I would try to refrain from many things. I was a good pupil in the school, teachers never complained about me. Yet, in 14 I, with my friends, committed a crime and was condemned to 12 years of incarceration. This term is only 2 years less than the term, which I had lived at large…

Sergey V., 17 years old. I learned many things staying behind the bars. However, this can be learned at large too. Boys, learn, first of all, to appreciate your parents. And the rest will come by itself.

Lena Sh., 15 years old. You are trying to reverse time, but it is too late. “I am afraid, my dear daughter that the sorrow will kill me, and the shame will burn me”. How to get rid of this black stain in my soul, how to prove that I am not a callous, heartless creature?

Inna S., 18 years old. Where are my friends now? They have disappeared! I devoted all my time to them, and they deserted me. Well, maybe they were not real friends, but only people, who strolled with me, visited discotheques, helped me to waste money?

It becomes clear who is who, when you get into a mess, when you are arrested. Those, who truly love you, for the sake of which you must live, learn and work, suffer together with you. Alas, I understood that too late…

During the time of my stay in the colony my mother died and now, believe me, I would be ready not only to listen to my parents and be a worthy daughter, but even to go to convent, to devote my life to goodness, to forget everything mundane, if only my mother was alive! No crime is worth of the punishment you can bear!

Maksim B., 18 years old. It is necessary to feel the pain of bereavement for feeling the guilt. I am afraid to be released and to look into my mother’s eyes. How could I leave her alone and get behind the bars?

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