Armenia joins global campaign to stop violence against children

YEREVAN, 27 July - UNICEF, Council of Europe and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Social Issues and State Police called today for immediate action to put an end to violence against children.

"In Armenia we need to give the issue of violence against children in homes, schools and other places in their community the visibility and public attention this deserves," Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Armenia said, addressing a round table organized on the heels of the Regional Consultations on Violence Against Children held in Ljubljana on 5-7 July 2005. "It is essential that polices and procedures are in place to help prevent violence against children, support child victims and strengthen reporting, referral and response mechanisms."

Studies in many countries have repeatedly shown that victims of physical abuse during childhood have an increased risk of becoming violent offenders themselves.

"Violence against children can occur everywhere, in every family and in every society. In Armenia, as in almost all countries, it is often a hidden problem that is vastly under-reported," Yett said

A 2003 UNICEF Armenia survey found that poor living conditions, unemployment and the psychological stress of poverty had resulted in an increase in the number of cases of abuse and neglect not only in the family but also in schools and children's institutions.

The study revealed that in many families slapping and beating are perceived as a "means of upbringing". In many children's institutions as well as in schools corporal punishment is still a common practice.

The Ljubljana conference was hosted by the Government of Slovenia and organized in close consultation with UNICEF, WHO the Council of Europe, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the NGO Advisory Panel on the UN Study on Violence Against Children. The consultation is one of nine worldwide that will feed into a major study mandated by the UN General Assembly on Violence Against Children.

Representatives of 40 countries as well as 24 child delegates participating in the Regional Consultations in Ljubljana adopted a final document called "Ljubljana Commitment". By adopting this document, the Government of Armenia and other countries in the region pledged to take immediate steps to tackle the problem of violence against children in their respective countries and to adopt measures to prevent such cases from happening in future.

For more information, please contact: Emil Sahakyan, UNICEF Armenia,