The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Maja Gojkovic spoke at the presentation of the Strategy for Prevention and Protection of Children from Violence for the period 2020-2023, organized by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, stressing that prevention and suppression of violence i.e. protection of children must be and indeed is one of the country’s national policy chief objectives.
Gojkovic said that only together, persistent in our common goal, can we manage to build and maintain a safe environment for our children, where they can grow carefree, express their diversity and develop their potentials.
Gojkovic praised the successful adoption of the Strategy for Prevention and Protection of Children from Violence, saying that the task now is to implement it in full and make sure that every child in Serbia is protected from violence and grows securely in a safe environment.
“It is truly horrifying to hear the very word “violence” in connection with a child in any way. However, it is a sad fact that children face violence in their domestic environment, schools, institutions for children without parental care or with disabilities”, Gojkovic said adding that with the increased accessibility of the internet and digital communication, the dark side of the human nature can be seen in the abuse of this technology in the guise of digital violence.
Gojkovic said that children can be exposed to various types of violence – physical, sexual, emotional, as well as abuse, neglect and discrimination.
“Knowing the far-reaching effects of childhood experiences, it is clear how violence suffered during this period can reflect on a child’s development. That is why violence against children is a huge contemporary problem that must be opposed without compromise”, Gojkovic said.
The Assembly Speaker said that the right to protection against violence was established by the UN Convention and international treaties which our country was among the first in the world to adopt 30 years ago.
“Which is why we should all ask ourselves what should we as individuals, parents and public officials, employees of state bodies and institutions, schools, NGOs and as a society, know to be able to recognize a potential victim or perpetrator and what should we do to prevent violence”, Gojkovic said adding that if violence does occur we have to be able to eliminate its damaging effects or at least alleviate them and punish the perpetrators in line with the law.
“The strategy gives us answers to these questions and its implementation will guide us toward a society without violence”, said Gojkovic adding that no type of violence should be invisible and we should not turn a blind eye to any type of violence or stay deaf and mute in the face of it.
In view of not uncommon instances of peer violence, Gojkovic said that children must know what bullying is, to be made aware of responsibilities and consequences that can be tragic, which requires coordination between all institutions – the education sector, welfare and health protection, police and the judiciary, in the prevention of violence and offering assistance to children that suffer it.
“Violence emerges in environments of intolerance, lacking understanding and empathy, and disappears by building mutual understanding, trust and cooperation”, said Gojkovic.