The National Strategy for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (2014-2020) was developed through multi-stakeholder consultations, including civil society organizations and children. A working group on ending violence against children was established in 2017, and continues to meet regularly to discuss the issue and its challenges.
Plan Z, a multi-agency international pilot program that addresses violence against children, was piloted in Romania between 2017-2018 by Terre des hommes Romania (TDH Romania), Save the Children Romania, and World Vision Romania. The program organized child-led innovation labs to address and solve issues related to violence against children such as bullying in schools with three solutions designed by children: ChildLine in Your School, Forum Theater and Role Play.
In February of 2019, this working group committed to the strengthening of the capacity of Romania's social services workforce, citing it as their annual priority. This built on the November 2018 Regional Conference organized by UNICEF, ECARO and the National Authority for the Protection of Child Rights and Adoption (NAPRCA) on social service workforce development. The latter conference was a high-level event that brought together 200 government officials, academics, civil society representatives, and other stakeholders from across Europe and Central Asia to understand and plan for a competent social service workforce. This goal was seen as a key pillar of social protection and child protection systems, including effective prevention and response to violence.
As part of the Romanian Presidency of the European Council for the first six months of 2019, the NAPRCA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EuroChild, the Romanian Federation of Children NGOs, and UNICEF Romania, along with other civil society organizations and children themselves, agreed to collaborate and promote children’s rights. In particular, they vowed to support increasing children’s participation as a key priority of the Romanian Presidency of the European Council.
Data on violence against children at the national level is accessible from a variety of sources and studies. Primary data on violence against children is provided by the National Statistics Institute of Romania, while sectorial statistics are available for specific data on child protection, including abuse and neglect investigated by social services, violence in schools, and crimes against children.
Romania conducted three Health Behavior in School-Aged Children surveys in 2006, 2010, and 2014. In 2013, a second national study on the abuse and neglect of children provided further national data on violence against children. In the same year, with the support from World Health Organization, the first adverse childhood experiences survey was conducted. UNICEF Romania provided an in-depth look on school violence with studies in 2005 and 2012.
In 2016, the situation of children in state care was systematically analyzed by NAPRCA, UNICEF Romania and the World Bank. This study was used as a baseline for an evidence-based investment in the development of alternative family-type care, and in the expansion of preventive services for families at-risk in local communities.
World Vision Romania conducted a national survey in 2016 on general population’s attitudes towards violence against children, the first segmentation study on this issue in Romania. In 2018, Save the Children Romania published a qualitative analysis on the identification and referral of abuse cases of children under 11.
UNICEF Romania piloted AURORA,an intelligent online application assuring unitary methodology for identification of vulnerabilities for all children.
Federatia Organizatillor Neguvernamentale Pentru Copil (FONPC), a federation of more than 100 non-governmental organisations that promote children’s rights to Romania’s public policy agenda, is working on further developing a set of data on child abuse and neglect. This data will be used to help public agencies develop solutions to child protection issues.
Coordination of these initiatives with NAPCRA in improving data collection at national level is ongoing as part of the End Violence Against Children working group activity.
Romania is one of the few countries that has banned the institutionalization of children less than three years of age. In 2019, this age increased to 7 years old to support the de-institutionalization policy and transition to community-based services.
Investment in the development of preventive local services was and will continue to be a priority, as well as closing old style institutions, strengthening the foster care network, and strengthening effective prevention systems and responses to violence, poverty, discrimination and social exclusion. Non-governmental organizations are sustaining this approach with interventions at the grassroots level. For example:
(a) World Vision Romania engaged 7,600 parents in non-violent parental education sessions;
(b) Save the Children Romania informed 41,500 children on bullying in schools and cyberbullying; and
(c) at-risk families in five counties received support in violence prevention from TDH Romania and SOS Kinderdorf Romania.
From 2014-2018, UNICEF Romania ensured parental education for 12,000 parents (out of which 24 percent were fathers). Furthermore, in December 2018, with support from the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and UNICEF Romania, NAPCRA shared its national experience in the Edinburgh Winter School and learned about adaptation and measurement of INSPIRE-related interventions. Throughout 2018, UNICEF Romania continued to provide technical assistance and support for Romania as a pathfinding country.
Within the same Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children framework, in January 2019, TDH Romania took part in the preparation of trainers promoting INSPIRE strategies and will organize dissemination sessions for professionals and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children working group members.
Learnings around preventing and combating violence against children from the, which was implemented in Romania by TDH Romania, will be made available for the social services workforce.
In 2019, End Violence and our partners are working to:
- By continuing the implementation of the community-integrated approach of the child protection system reform, which has ending violence against children at its heart. This is happening under the leadership of the National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and Adoption.
- By using European Union Presidency to showcase what Romania has accomplished in promoting a European-wide consultation mechanism with children.
- By developing evidence-based services to respond to child maltreatment, such as the Barnahus model. This model addresses child sexual abuse by placing all relevant professionals under one roof, coordinating the efforts of all actors, including the police, social workers, and medical professionals, to minimize children's risk of re-traumatisation.
- By training front-line workers in the identification of and response to children who have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.