Bulgaria: “Childhood without Violence” national platform established

Source: Bulgarian National Network for Children

On September, 12, 2018, in Sofia was officially announced the establishment of a large national platform against child violence – “Childhood without violence”. 19 civic organizations and experts, working for years to prevent violence against children, had been united for joint action. The reasons for creating the Alliance is the lack of progress in state policies and practice and insufficient understanding of the problem in society. The members of the Alliance “Childhood Without Violence” aim to become a wide platform involving representatives of all spheres of society – civic organizations, parents and citizens, institutions, business, media.

The platform will provide advocacy work with institutions to change legislation and to ensure sustainable public services. The Alliance will conduct researches and will develop different instruments for professionals working with children at risk. The Alliance also aims to help parents and professionals, working with children, by supporting them through specially developed programs and trainings to find alternatives of corporal punishment, verbal and emotional violence. A resource platform www.endviolence.bg was created to meet these needs. The website contains useful information on preventing, identifying and overcoming the effects of violence and presents existing services in the country and useful contacts.

Next year “Childhood without Violence” foresees a broad information campaign to improve understanding of child abuse and its consequences.

Current members of the Alliance are:
Parents Association, Demetra Association, Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA), Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNL), Social Activities and Practices Institute, National Network for Children, Knowhow Center for Alternative Care for Children, “Child and Space” Association, Children and Adolescents Association, Center for Inclusive Education Foundation, Association Animus Foundation, Foundation for Children with Special Needs, Foundation for Children at Risk, For Our Children Foundation, Tulip Foundation, ARC Foundation, PULS Foundation, Assoc. Prof. Alexey Pamporov and Assoc. Prof. Velina Todorova (member of the UN Committee on the Child Rights).

The Alliance launch was supported by six celebrities: the Mayor of City of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, the National Ombuds person Maya Manolova, the popular actors Joanna Bukovska and Ivailo Zahariev, the writer Georgi Gospodinov and the beloved singer Poly Genova. They took part in a series of emotional videos calling to understand the deep impact of the violence on child’s well-being and its long lasting consequences. Videos was broadcasted on social networks, electronic and online media.

Violence against children exists in all social groups. It results in serious consequences and losses for society. Children who have survived violence, are more likely to: use drugs; suffer from depression and other psychological conditions; enter into conflict with the law; have problems with learning; have degraded psychological and physical development.

Globally, economic losses from the consequences of violence against children are estimated at 3 to 8% of the world’s gross domestic product.

In Bulgaria, statistics on cases of child abuse are incomplete. On the national hot telephone line for children, supported by the Animus Association and the State Agency for Child Protection, 11 000 calls from children were received last year. 700 of these were for cases of violence.

The discussion about childhood without violence concerns the future of our country, calls the Alliance “Childhood without Violence”.