Tirana, 22 December 2016 – Children’s Human Rights Centre of Albania, Faculty of Social Sciences, Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, the State Agency for Protection of Children’s Rights,with the support of UNICEF and in collaboration with civil society organizations, organized the national conference “Protecting children from violence in Albania”.
Violence against children is one of the most serious problems that considerably threaten child development, health, well-being, fundamental rights, dignity and life. In this context, the efforts and initiative of the Albanian government to set up an effective system for the protection of children, to ensure the implementation of cross-sectorial cooperation principles and to strengthen the system’s ability to prevent, react and protect children from all forms of violence, brings together stakeholders to discuss upon models and best practices, but also challenges that would ensure the implementation of the draft/law "On the rights and protection of children".
Mr. Edmond Rapti, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences opened with the message: “We are proud to host this second conference regarding the protection of children from violence. We believe that it is important that future practitioners coming from this faculty work closely with professionals and government to propose research and improve the situation of children in Albania”.
His message was underlined by the vice Minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Mrs. Bardhylka Kospiri who noted the importance of the conference as driving force for new policies and for the improvement of existing ones with focus on the protection of children from violence. Mrs. Kospiri underlined the importance of municipalities and services at local level, as an important element for children’s welbeing.
Mrs. Malaj, Vice Minister of Education and Sport stressed the importance of 0 violence in schools and the effort of the ministry to work at multiple levels to tackle this phenomena. She noted that child-family-community components of the society are crucial to fighting violence in schools, and only by changing social norms we can better work towards eradicating it in the school environment.
Mrs. Vasilika Hysi, vice chair of the Parliamentary Group “Friends of Children” in her speech congratulated the faculty for hosting such important conferences in the midst of students and practitioners and highlighted how the parliament is currently examining a series of draft/laws, including "On the rights and protection of children" and how it is vital to start their implementation in the country.
The Ombudsman, Mr. Totozani, called for the attention of all stakeholders for children in street situation, the children of Bulqiza, children victims of blood feud, etc. He stressed that violence is present and that much bigger efforts must be put in this regard.
Mrs. Irma Baraku, Commissioner for the Protection against Discrimination in her speech pointed out the work of her office in bringing cases forward and how the issue of violence against children is of particular relevance for coordinated interventions.
UNICEF Albania’s initiative "Protecting children from violence in Albania", implemented by the Children Human Rights Centre of Albania, aims to strengthen the partnership between civil society organizations and government decision-makers, in order to reinforce policies and public services in identifying, reporting, and referring cases of violence against children.
The papers and abstracts prepared by researchers of the Faculty of Social Sciences, scientists, experts and practitioners - provided an overview of violence against children in the country. The plenary session was followed by four thematic sessions, discussions and recommendations focused on the need to create services, support, and budget and create multiply networks of specialized professionals working in tackling violence against children. The response to violence also needs to be better coordinated and planned. Attitudes and believes among school staff and service providers need to change and legislation need to be implemented according to the new standards. Children must be regarded as change agents in the society. The efforts for reforming the social care system need to be implemented and budgeted at local level. Teachers need to increase their capacity to deal with violence and reporting, and adopt alternative ways of discipline. Civil society need to be coordinated to push for budgeting and provision of quality and specialized services at local level.
The Conference’s recommendations will serve policy makers to better address and initiate new policies for the prevention of children from violence.
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Mersila Ballo, CRCA Shqipëri, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.