The public should not tolerate violence towards children
So said Marina Gordeeva, chair of the board of ‘Aid for Children in a Difficult Life Situation’ at a conference with law enforcement agencies in the Russian Federation on the issue of mounting a national information campaign against cruelty to children. The aims of the campaign are to instil into the national consciousness an attitude of revulsion towards such treatment, to promote the idea of responsible parenthood, to minimise the occurrences of cruel treatment and to help those children who suffer in this way.
Ms Gordeeva said the campaign is to be targeted at parents, teachers, and children who are undergoing physical or mental abuse. It will have a logo and a slogan. Advertising features have been prepared in both audio and video format. It is proposed to make the first set of these available for broadcasting on local television and radio and for showing at exhibition stands by 25 May.
There is also to be a children’s confidential phone line to enable information to be given about all incidents involving breaches of their rights and to let specialists know about the situation in a particular family. In September the phone line will begin to operate in the majority of the Russian regions. 12 March saw the start of a charity marathon called ‘Childhood without Cruelty and Tears’, conducted jointly with the Association of Children’s Goods Manufacturers. In this context children from rehabilitation centres have already been given toys worth over 100,000 roubles. It is proposed to help children from 37 social institutions this year.
In addition, on 16 March a competition started for the title of ‘Town Without Cruelty to Children’. This is being organised in conjunction with the Association of Small and Medium Sized Towns of Russia. So far a number of towns have already indicated that they would like to take part – Glazov (Udmutia) Ruzaev (Mordovia) Astrakhan and others.
Maksima Topolina, deputy minister of health and social development, said violence against children is a painful subject. As a rule people either close their eyes to it or fail to react to the most scandalous occurrences. According to the public order department of the ministry of the interior, 106,000 violations of minors’ rights were recorded in 2009 and around 68,000 children suffered physical abuse at the hands of adults. About 9,000 criminal cases were instituted against those committing violations.
A ministry of education expert in the field of supplemental education and child welfare said that it was not only in families that the problem of violence against children existed but also in schools and children’s institutions. She said that the Employment Law Code of the Russian Federation needed amending to prohibit those with any kind of serious convictions from working in an educational institution. An appropriate text has been drafted in the ministry. Whilst current legislation envisages penalties in regard to crimes against children including life imprisonment, the federal ombudsman thinks it to be impossible to resolve the problem of violence against children by banning it, however emphatically. ‘It is important to give information not only about the awful facts about violence but also concerning those cases when violence against children has been averted’, observed Mr Astakhov. He said it was necessary to get the NGOs to be more active with regard to the national information campaign since it was much easier for their representatives than for the militia (police) or government officers to reach families.