Violence against children is a universal problem. Under international norms, it is regarded as violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of children. Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of a Child guarantees protection of children from violence and exploitation. Ensuring child protection is considered one of the main responsibilities of the state. Evaluation criteria of the phenomenon of violence are not yet fully defined by the state, information on forms of manifestation of violence and their prevalence is missing, coordinated and mutually agreed response mechanisms of competent bodies are not effective. Rehabilitation services for children exposed to violence and measures towards prevention of the phenomenon are missing, nor is intolerant attitude formed by the society towards the phenomenon.
Pursuant to the Demographic and Health Survey of Armenia (2015-16), seven out of ten children of 1-14 years of age have been exposed to a psychological or corporal punishment during 30 days preceding the survey. Psychological aggression is more prevalent than physical. More than two third of children (65 percent) has been exposed to psychological aggression, and 38 percent – to any form of corporal punishment. Four percent of children were exposed to severe corporal punishment.
Violent methods have almost equally been applied against both girls (67 percent) and boys (71 percent). Violence against children of early ages has been applied more rarely than against children of 3-14 years old. Nevertheless, violent methods of upbringing have been applied against almost half of one and two years’ old children.
Violent methods of upbringing are nearly similarly common against children of urban (68 percent) and rural (71 percent) settlements. Children in Syunik Marz and Vayots Dzor Marz have been least exposed to violent methods of upbringing (56 and 59 percent respectively). On the contrary, a violent method has been applied against about eight out of ten children of Aragatsotn and Lori Marzes.
As a result of preliminary assessment of the situation in the field of child protection conducted by World Vision Armenia in 2015, it was revealed that in the past one month 74.7% of parents applied physical or psychological abuse against children as a form of punishment. Physical abuse was applied by 39.7%; 67.4% of the same parents think that application of physical abuse is not an effective method of upbringing and only 8% considers corporal punishment as an effective means of upbringing.
Around 44% of respondents of the research on violence against children conducted by the National Institute of Labor and Social Research of the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Issues considers that violence against children is one of the problems in our society that requires an urgent solution. According to the data of “Young Voices” research conducted by Save the Children, World Vision Armenia and the RA HRD office, 84% of respondent children considers that greater efforts must be exerted in Armenia to prevent bullying, and 43% has witnessed bullying at school at least 1-5 times.
Pursuant to “Health behavior in school-aged children of Armenia” national survey conducted in 2016, 27% of boys and 6% of girls of 11-15 years old and 52% of 15-17 years’ old boys took part in physical fighting at least twice in the past 12 months.
As a result of analyses, the following have been identified as groups of main reasons of violence:
● Legislative gaps and non-compliance with law,
● Social stereotypes, norms and values,
● Insecure environment,
● Crisis situation in the family,
● Severe economic condition,
● Imperfection of child protection system,
● Lack of life skills among children and parents.
The issue of violence against children must be considered as a complex social issue and, therefore, corresponding measures must be taken not only for elimination of its consequences but also for its prevention.