Following the recent discussion groups held in Kotayk and Ararat about the prevention of child abuse, about 75 representatives from youth and family protection groups, along with policymakers convened at Yerevan’s Congress Hotel. Their mission: to discuss how Armenian society can better address child protection and prevent abuse. Using a strategy plan constructed from the previous discussion, the group began work on a new advocacy and awareness campaign for the national media to catalyze action against the abuse and violence of children in honor of the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
Attendees included Deputy Representative of UNICEF-Armenia Cristina Roccella; the head of Family, Women and Children Programs at the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues Lala Ghazaryan; and Nelly Duryan from RA Police. Representatives from parental, educational and domestic violence support groups, religious and civic organizations, and child protective services attended, along with health and mental health professionals, educators and lawyers.
Discussion focused on different forms of violence, how to avoid victimization and how NGOs in collaboration with the state can raise awareness about the problem of child abuse.
CSFC Director Mira Antonyan says the top concerns for child abuse are neglect, physical violence in families, either by children of the same age or by adults, as well as sexual harassment. Physical abuse is loosely defined in Armenia; most parents and teachers still consider it normal to slap or spank children who misbehave. Still, child abuse in Armenia remains a taboo subject.
“We all care about the issue of child abuse and violence, but very often we hear more about the problem than we do about the solutions. Preventing child abuse means setting the stage for healthy, stable families who have the tools they need to care for their children,” Mira said. “We want the public to realize that preventing child abuse is a shared responsibility. It needs everyone’s attention on a daily basis, not just one day during the month of November.”