A study commissioned by UNICEF confirmed that every second child (47%) in Bulgaria will have experienced some form of violence by the age of 18. The most common form of violence experienced is emotional violence (45.9%), followed by physical (31.2%), sexual (15.6%), and neglect (10.5%). The environments in which children most often observe violence are at school (38.3%), in the community (37.6%), and at home (30.9%). One in three children (34.8%) said that they feel that they are in danger at home, at school, or in the community.
It is important to note that this is the first study in Bulgaria that has included data on all forms of violence against children in different settings. The study also included a thorough assessment of the capacity of the services responsible for prevention and response. It was conducted in 2019–2020, and included a “nationally representative survey among households covering 1,174 children aged 13–17, 837 young people aged 18–25, and 1,411 adults, as well as a survey among 887 teachers, social workers, prosecutors and magistrates, health professionals, and police officers”.
The study makes the following recommendations:
• Raise awareness among professionals and the public about all forms of violence against children.
• Ministries, departments, and professional organizations should actively work to raise awareness of state policies in the field of violence against children, and to provide training for identifying and responding to violence against children for all professionals, with a stronger emphasis on researched and covert forms of violence against children, including sexual violence and online bullying.
• Raise the status of social work, expand staff retention measures, ensure adequate supervision and management, and professionalize the workforce in the social sector.
• Develop common standards and guidelines for the use of “blue rooms” for conducting interviews in a child-friendly manner.
• Develop general and specific sector guidelines, procedures, and rules for recognizing cases of violence and submitting signals to the competent authorities.
• Review the existing coordination mechanisms, and develop clear rules and guidelines for the various actors.
• Improve the information system for data collection, management, and analysis to overcome existing weaknesses, such as the lack of disaggregated and sufficient data to monitor and analyze policies, trends, and the effectiveness of procedures.
You can learn more about the study and its results in the source article on the UNICEF Bulgaria website (in Bulgarian).
Source: UNICEF Bulgaria