What is being done to prevent crimes against children?
Over 80 thousand Ukrainian families, in which there are over 110 thousand children, are on police lists over ill-treatment of children. The victims of such treatment can bear terrible psychological scars, psychologists warn, while human rights activists point to a lack of systematic policy in this sphere.
Yury Pavlenko, the President’s Representative on Children’s Rights promised in a broadcast on Radio Svoboda that a separate help line on protecting children’s rights would be created by the end of this year. Last year only 5% of children suffering from domestic violence received the help they needed.
According to Yury Pavlenko a “certain positive revolution” is underway in Ukraine. He says that 12 thousand authorized people who are not civil servants, but social workers and helpers, have been enlisted. These are obliged to provide help to families in difficult circumstances.
However human rights activist Volodymyr Yavorsky considers that the President’s Representative on Children’s Rights does not have the powers which counterparts in some other countries have. He says that Pavlenko is trying to do something but that overall there is no evidence of a systematic policy in the government on preventing crimes against children.
“We effectively still have the old system where the authorities largely distance themselves from such things. Sometimes they punish somebody when necessary, take “difficult” children under their watch. However overall there is no systemic policy and most important, there is no social work being carried out.”
He adds that the mentality is prevalent in Ukrainian society that you shouldn’t bring such things out into the open. Victims of domestic violence are therefore very often deprived of even the opportunity of turning to people for help. There are also a lot of parents who consider that “it’s my child, I can bring them up as I wish!”
According to a survey carried out by La Strada Ukraine, half of the respondents who say that they are comfortably off are not against corporal punishment in certain circumstances. Only a quarter were against such forms of punishment under any circumstances.