Brussels—On the occasion of the European Day of Persons with Disability, the European Agency for Fundamental rights (FRA) presented the latest report on violence against children entitled “Violence against children with disabilities: legislation, policies and programmes in the European Union”, which examines the forms, causes and settings of violence against children with disabilities and suggests steps to tackle it.
Nevena Peneva, from FRA, said“boys and girls with disabilities are at risk of violence, experience abuse, 4 times higher than children without them”. During her presentation, Nevena Peneva indicated where the EU, its Member States, policymakers and relevant stakeholders can best intervene to fight violence against children with disabilities and to better protect children from exclusion and abuse across the European Union:
- Establishing inclusive child protection systems.
- Enhancing the legal and political framework for protection of children with disabilities.
- Ensuring coordination and appointing a focal point on children with disabilities.
- Addressing social attitudes and countering isolation.
- Promoting child-focused prevention measures and child participation
- Providing family-focused services.
- Ensuring inclusive education and participation in all aspects of life on equal basis with others.
- Advancing deinstitutionalisation efforts and strengthening the monitoring of institutions
- Developing targeted tools, allocating and adequate resources and improving human resource capacity
- Collecting data
In line with the FRA recommendations, IF agrees that inclusive child protection systems are the key. Children with disabilities face significant barriers to enjoying their rights. They are often denied access to basic services, such as health care and education. For example, the integration of children and adolescents with special educational needs into mainstream schools is essential. As Ailsa Dick mentioned during the Conference, since her son Baxter, who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, started mainstream education in the local nursery, there is a positive difference in the development of Baxter’s abilities.
Even though there are two main key international conventions which cover and address the issues of violence against children, the UN CRPD and the UN CRC, IF would like to remember that implementation is still a challenge: lack of training of professionals in order to identify incidents of abuse, and lack of cooperation and data.