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CHILDREN CHILDREN’S REPORT ON THE RESPECT OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. 2009


TRUTH VOICED BY

CHILDREN CHILDREN’S REPORT ON THE RESPECT OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. 2009


TRUTH VOICED BY CHILDREN Children’s Report on the Respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Moldova. 2009 Edition coordinator: Cezar Gavriliuc Realized by CRIC & URMA ta Editor: Igor Guzun Contributions: Daniela Platon, Iosif Moldovanu, Veaceslav Luca Photos: Veaceslav Luca, Sanda Cojocaru Translated to English by Eugen Oprea Printing: Foxtrot SRL Copies: 500 The Children’s Report on the Respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Moldova 2009 is published thanks to the contribution of the 25 children – members of the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring in Moldova within the project “Children monitor their own rights”. In order to perform this project Child Rights Information Centre (CRIC) benefitted from the support of Save the Children Sweden, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Moldova, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Soros Foundation Moldova, United States Government and UNICEF Moldova. The activities of the children - members of the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring in Moldova were coordinated by the CRIC’s team of facilitators: Iosif Moldovanu, Cezar Gavriliuc, Daniela Platon and Veaceslav Luca. The members of the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring in Moldova: Alina Porombrica, Ana Tulgara, Ana Maria Harea, Anastasia Codreanu, Cristina Chirilov, Cristina Pulbere, Denis Zagorodniuc, Ecaterina Procopeţ, Elena Coniuhov, Elena Obleac, Eugen Ciolan, Gabriela Croitoru, Igor Lai, Ina Creciun, Ion Coliban, Irina Guşan, Janna Kiseeva, Lidia Galus, Mihaela Cuschevici, Nicolae Tabanschi, Robert Cinciuc, Sabin Cernogal, Sabina Guţan, Tatiana Rusu, Valeria Roşca, Vasile Negară and Victoria Lungu. This Report can be found at: Child Rights Information Centre Moldova (CRIC) 15 Eugen Coca str., Chişinău, MD-2008, Moldova Tel./fax: +373.22.71.65.98, +373.22.74.78.13 E-mail: ciddc@yahoo.com, monitor.childrights@gmail.com Web: http://www.childrights.md The Report is also available online at: http://www.childrights.md/en/publications/report_2009.pdf The support provided by the financial institutions for the development of this report does not imply endorsement by them of the content, design or presentation of the information and opinions contained therein. Chişinău, 2010


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. CONTEXT..............................................................................................5 2. THE FIRST STUDY CARRIED OUT BY CHILDREN ON THE LEVEL OF . KNOWLEDGE AND THE RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN MOLDOVA. 2009..........................................................................11 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5.

Children’s level of knowledge of their rights and of the Convention on the Rights of the Child............................................... 13 The present and the desired sources of information on children’s rights............................................................................................ 15 The level of respect for the rights of the child............................................. 17 The level of knowledge of the institutions children can address in cases of child rights violation............................................... 22 Suggested actions aimed at ensuring child rights respect....................... 24

3. CHILD RIGHTS IN MOLDOVA – CURRENT SITUATION......................29 3.1. Right to Education: “The right to education is our favorite and the most violated one” ............................................................................. 29 3.2. Right to Participate: “Participating we become better informed persons, we get more knowledge and experience”.................. 37 3.3. Right to Protection against Violence, Abuse and Neglect: “Does spanking make us better children?”................................................... 49 3.4. Right to Protection against Labor Exploitation: “Children forced to work are deprived of other rights as well”............................................... 57 3.5. Right to Rest, Leisure and Play: “Many children in Moldova don’t have free time at all”............................................................................... 61

4. CHILD RIGHTS FUTURE IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA...............69


1. CONTEXT Introduction The following Children’s Report on the respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Moldova was realized by 25 children – members of the Working Group on Child Rights Monitoring, created by Child Rights Information Centre Moldova (CRIC), in July 2008. The Report contains children’s personal findings, observations, experiences and accounts on the children’s rights violation and respect in the Republic of Moldova, shared during the eight workshops, organized by CRIC within the project “Children monitor their own rights”, between July 2008 and November 2009. The children from the Child Rights Monitoring Group in Moldova presented, during the workshops in which they had participated, observations on the Right to Education (November 2008), the Right to Protection against Violence, Abuse and Neglect (January 2009), the Right to Participate (March 2009), the Right to Protection against Labor Exploitation (June 2009) and the Right to Rest and Leisure (August 2009). The Report includes also the results of the first study, developed entirely by children, based on the opinions on the respect for children’s rights gathered from their peers. The activity of this Children Working Group from Moldova, with permanent status, represents, according to some international experts “a unique innovative initiative in Europe, worth being developed in other countries”, because “the best experts in the field of child rights are children themselves”.

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The Group assumed and deepened the experience on children consultation, conducted by CRIC in January and March 2008, resulting in the development of the First Children’s Report on the Respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Moldova. The consultation exercise included then two stages and concluded with a presentation by children of their own Report on the respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Moldova, in Chişinău, in August 2008 and in Geneva, in October 2008. The Child Rights Information Centre in Moldova, with an experience of ten years in promoting children’s rights and initiatives that help children to freely express their opinions, uses this Children’s Report as a tool to advocate for children’s rights and to make their voice heard. The Children’s Report is designed for: • Children – to know their rights and be aware of violation cases. • Parents, teachers, adults – to consult with children and to take into account their opinion. • Decision-makers – to learn what children think of the existing social services and to include children’s thoughts in the legislation development process. Throughout the group’s activity, the children monitoring the child rights in Moldova chose as a message the following assertion: “In Moldova everything should start off on the RIGHT (foot). The RIGHT of the child”. One year after the implementation of the initiative “Children monitor their own rights”, experts state that the voice of the Moldovan children carries weight to the reports and studies realized by adults.

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Participants Children from the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring in Moldova were selected as a result of a national contest, held by the Child Rights Information Centre, in 2008. Later on, some more children joined the Group, following a competition, announced in July 2009. The Group includes now children representing 14 regions of the country: Bălţi, Briceni, Călăraşi, Căuşeni, Chişinău, Cimişlia, Drochia, Făleşti, Floreşti, Hânceşti, Rezina, Sângerei, Teleneşti and Ungheni. These children are between 12 and 17, and their experience of participation in school and community initiatives is different. Throughout the training and the documentation process, children were guided by the CRIC team of facilitators: Iosif Moldovanu, Cezar Gavriliuc, Daniela Platon and Veaceslav Luca. For subjects related to communication and advocacy, children enjoyed the assistance provided by „URMA ta” team: Aurelia and Igor Guzun, helped by Olga Cimbir.

The process The team of 25 children, members of the Child Rights Monitoring Group in Moldova participated in workshops, organized in Chişinău throughout a year, during school vacation. They were first instructed in the field of child rights, afterwards they developed monitoring indicators, corresponding to their age and they returned to their schools and communities to gather information on the respect or violation of a right selected in the previous workshop.

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The child rights monitoring indicators, formulated by children themselves, constitute the content of the Guide on child rights monitoring. The Report includes all children’s observations and findings, presented within workshops in front of colleagues, media representatives and partners of the initiative. Moreover, the Report’s content and the wording used represent children’s ideas and statements. Children also wrote articles, they took part in radio and television shows, they organized various actions, they informed their mates on how to know and protect their rights, they held speeches and they contributed articles to the Group’s information bulletin „Child Rights Official Monitor in Moldova”. It is also important to mention that children from the Working Group for Child Rights Monitoring met with influential figures, both at the local and national levels, the latter visiting them during the workshops held in Chişinău. The Children’s Ombudsman was among them. All these activities aimed at advocating children’s rights on the basis of all the stories and the information collected in their communities. The media supported the children throughout. The children, experts in the child rights field, exercised, during the sessions, several advocacy tools, like writing and holding a public speech, writing a plea letter, creating a poster, giving a media interview, developing a web page for the Monitoring Group etc. all these activities were based on the situations found in their communities as monitors. At the end of the seventh workshop, each member of the Group for Child Rights Monitoring formulated conclusions to the rights they had monitored within a year for the Annual Report on the Respect for the Children’s Rights in Moldova. Another objective achieved by children – members of the Working Group was to investigate other children’s opinions on the respect for their rights. In the period August – November 2009, the Group conducted a study which revealed the degree of knowledge of child rights by children and the way they estimate the respect for their own rights.

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A questionnaire was developed by the children – members of the Working Group for Child Rights Monitoring. After being disseminated among peers from their regions, these children analyzed the collected data and developed conclusions and recommendations. On the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Group presented the study’s outcomes during a press conference and a television show. The children confessed excitement about their own involvement in the project, the informal working atmosphere, the interactive methods utilized by the team of facilitators, the knowledge and skills they had got, as well as the opportunity to make their voice heard.


2. THE FIRST STUDY CARRIED OUT BY CHILDREN ON THE LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN MOLDOVA. 2009 The study was carried out by the 25 members of the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring, with the assistance of CRIC, in the period August – November 2009.

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The implementation of the study by the Group pursued the following objectives: to determine children’s level of knowledge regarding their rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to identify both current and desired sources of information in terms of child rights, utilized by children to assess to what extent child rights are respected to determine how much information children have about the institutions that can be addressed in rights violation cases to gather children’s suggestions on actions to ensure child rights respect. The questionnaire on the basis of which the study was carried out (Annex) had been developed by the children – members of the Working Group and applied among their peers in the regions of origin. On the whole, 1215 children (aged between 9 and 18, among them 673 girls and 542 boys, 736 children from rural areas and 479 children from urban areas) from 13 districts of the country and Chişinău filled out the questionnaire. The statistical analysis of the survey based collected data was performed by CRIC. The Group analyzed the data, found the major tendencies and formulated conclusions and recommendations within a workshop. All the explanations included in the report belong to the Working Group. The obtained results are not representative of all the children of the Republic of Moldova.

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2.1. Children’s level of knowledge of their rights and of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Asked to indicate 5 child rights, the respondents mentioned more often the following ones: 1. The right to education (73,9%) 2. The right to rest, leisure, recreational activities and participation in cultural life (59,9%) 3. The right to freedom of expression (49,6%) 4. The right to a family (43,4%) 5. The right to life (34,6%) 6. The right to medical assistance (25,7%). Less than 2% of children mentioned: the right to protection of private life, the right to protection against economic exploitation and all forms of discrimination, social security, the right to preserve his/her identity, the best interest of the child. One in ten children confuses the rights with the rules and obligations they should respect both at school and at home: do your homework, be attentive during the lessons, walk quietly in school hallways, don’t be noisy, obey/help your parents and teachers etc. Some of these „rights” can be found in pupils’ record books: choose the type of education in accordance with abilities, represent your school in school contests and Olympiads etc. This situation is the result of failure to appropriately inform children about their rights, the latter being taught mostly obligations and having little understanding of rights’ significance. About 5% of children believe that they have „the right to labor”. It is due to the fact that numerous teachers and parents think that work is inherent in a child’s life, thus confusing education through labor with labor exploitation. Children from rural areas regard work as a right more frequently than those from urban areas (6,3% and 2,5%).

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Every tenth child (10,8%) named „the right to freedom” among major child rights, the respondents between the ages of 15 and 18 mentioning it twice as often as those of 9 and 14 (15,6% and 7,7%). The most likely explanation is that adolescents need more space, they feel compelled to do things they don’t like and limited in their actions by the adults who don’t trust them or their abilities to achieve something independently. That is why grown-ups tend to control and survey them. Although the number of children knowing 5 or more rights is rather big (39%), more than a half of the respondents enumerated less than 5 rights, while 4,4% found it hard to name at least one. Less than a fourth of the respondents (23,9%) recognized the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as the document in which children’s rights are written. Nevertheless, 67% of children are not aware of any legal document on the rights of the child. The number of children knowing other legislative documents related to rights is of about 9%, among them: Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, Family Code, Republic of Moldova Law on the Rights of the Child, Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a whole, girls are better informed about children’s rights than boys (around 45% of girls cite 5 and more rights, compared to 32% of boys). It is due to the fact that girls are, as a rule, more interested in seminars, activities connected to human rights; they get easily involved in projects and have access to information in this field. Thanks to a better school performance and an excellent behavior, girls are encouraged by teachers to take part in similar activities. Children from rural areas demonstrated better knowledge of child rights compared to those from urban areas (42,4% and 33,7% respectively, named 5 and more rights). The respondents from urban areas mentioned more frequently the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a legal document stipulating child rights (28,8% and 16,4 % respectively). Most of the projects on child rights

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were held in rural areas and both children and adults enjoyed the opportunity for getting involved.

The level of knowledge of child rights grows with age (the proportion of children below 14 citing more than 5 rights rising to 30,4%, and that of older children – 52,5%). The adolescents name 4,8 times more often legal documents on child rights in comparison with smaller children (17,5% and 3,6% respectively). On the contrary, compared to older children, those aged between 9 and 14 mention three times more frequently obligations instead of rights (17,5% and 3,6% respectively).

The obtained outcomes indicate that the information on children’s rights, delivered by adults to children is often selective and incomplete. Because of adults’ wrong understanding of the essence of child rights, the children are also deprived of full information in this field (they mix up rights with obligations, they consider that they have the right to labor and they are not aware of the right to protection against economic exploitation, also they display a lack of knowledge in terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). No subject teaching child rights is on the school curricula, this topic being addressed only occasionally, quite often superficially, as a theme within other subjects. Also, the information about rights is delivered to children depending on parents’ and teachers’ interests. For instance: three quarters of children cite the right to education and less than one per cent of them name the right to protection from all forms of discrimination and children’s best interest.

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Recommendations: To introduce a course or a module/chapter within another school subject on children’s rights and on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. To conduct trainings and informative seminars on children’s rights for teachers, parents, social workers, as well as other adults. To ensure that boys and girls enjoy equal rights within participation projects, regardless of their school performance and behavior. To provide opportunities for children, from a very young age, to get involved in activities targeting the familiarization of children with their rights.

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2.2. The present and the desired sources of information on children’s rights Most of the respondents confessed they had heard about children’s rights from teachers (86,3%). Parents come second – 74,2%. One third of the respondents (36,2%) highlighted the media as an important source in this regard (newspapers, journals, television and radio), one fourth (25,4%) – their friends and one fifth (21,2%) – books and brochures on children’s rights. Some of the teachers involved in projects on children’s rights sometimes address this matter during civic education classes and weekly classes with form teachers. Nevertheless, the other study’s outcomes reveal that teachers fail to deliver quality information on the matter. It is done on an occasional basis and adults teach only the convenient aspects of the children’s rights. Even the way in which the information materials on children’s rights are being used in schools proves inefficient: one has limited access to them, due to their insufficient number; their contents are not being properly explained and discussions are not being held on the subject, unless public hours or special events are organized (for example: Human Rights Week) etc. Children from rural areas mentioned teachers as the major source of information about rights more often than those from urban areas (90,2% and 80,3% respectively). Thus, teachers from villages are involved in activities related to children’s rights to a greater extent than those from cities. Besides, children from urban areas have more sources of information at their disposal (Internet, brochures, etc).

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Boys indicated Internet as a source of information twice as often as girls (24% compared to 12,6%), because they spend more time surfing the Internet. Moreover, they prefer some other ways to inform themselves, other than the communication-based ones (like the lessons). Parents and teachers remain children’s favorite sources of information in the future, in the field of children’s rights (on average, three quarters of children named them). Children expressed their wish to carry on talks with parents and teachers about their rights. This presupposes that adults should be more prepared to address this matter; they should have better knowledge about children’s rights and not hesitate to discuss this topic with their children. Approximately one third of the respondents stated that they would like to get information on children’s rights from the media (34,9%), the Internet (31,1%) and from their friends (30,3%). The older the children, the greater the need for diversified information sources, their choice going to those allowing children to inform themselves independently (the media, the Internet). On the contrary, children aged between 9 and 14 would prefer parents (80,7% compared to 69%) and friends (32,8% compared to 26,4%) as their main sources of information on children’s rights.

Recommendations To diversify the methods of teaching, including those in the field of children’s rights in order to correspond to boys’ favorite ways to obtain information. To disseminate the information about children’s rights in as many forms as possible (Internet, brochures, magazines), according to children’s age and to ensure availability of the materials on the topic.

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2.3. The level of respect for the rights of the child The proportion of children judging positively the respect for children’s rights in their home regions (grades 4 and 5) is of 41,7%. On the other hand, 16,5% of children highlighted the low level of respect for their rights (grades 1 and 2). An average grade (grade 3) was given to the respect for their rights by a greater number of children (39,8%). This proves the fact that many children do not realize that their rights are being violated, because they don’t know them or they mistrust data confidentiality and they fear persecution by adults in case they dare express freely their opinion. Among adolescents, there is a smaller proportion of children appreciating highly the respect for their rights than that among children aged between 9 and 14 (35,1% compared to 46%). The older the children, the larger their knowledge about their rights is, thus they are aware of rights infringement situations, due to a bigger experience in this regard. Children aged between 9 and 14 are not aware of rights violations or they consider them insignificant, because they are influenced to a greater extent by adults. The proportion of boys assessing negatively the respect for their rights is higher than that of girls (20,9% and 13,1% respectively). One reason for that is the fact that conflicts occur more often among boys than among girls. Boys also get involved more frequently in conflict situations with parents and teachers, whereas girls are more obedient. Children’s rights are more often infringed in the following places: on the street (69,2%), in public places (44,6%), at school (40%) and in the group of friends (39,8%).

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The school is the establishment in which children spend a large part of their day and where rights are violated by both, peers and adults. Due to a lack of sufficient, specially designated areas for leisure activities, children spend their time on the street, with their friends. The street is the place where there are no grown-ups supervising children’s behavior and mediating the relationships between them. The conflicts happening in the streets can be easily noticed. A quarter of the respondents (25,8%) mentioned the family environment as a place where children’s rights are infringed. Such a small proportion can be explained by the following: children do not know their rights, thus they find it hard to identify violations; children are ashamed to acknowledge they are illtreated in the family; it is traditionally considered as a sign of ingratitude if a child reproaches his/her parents for violating his/her rights. Numerous children connect their rights infringement in the family environment with parents’ departures abroad in search of work. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

According to children, the most violated rights are the following: The right to rest and leisure (37%) The right to freedom of expression (36,6%) The right to education (13%) The right to have a family (9,6%) The right to protection against violence (9,5%)

A lot of homework to do, the need to work or perform household activities, the lack of free time opportunities that would meet children’s interests, these are some of the major reasons for encroaching upon children’s right to rest and leisure. Children’s opinion is often ignored because “adults believe a child cannot have an opinion”.

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The right to rest and leisure is the most violated right in the case of children aged between 9 and 14, whereas in the case of children aged between 15 and 18 – the freedom of expression. The first category of children need more free time, they are interested in playing games and communicating with their peers. The latter begin to mature and develop their own views, which quite often clash with those of adults. The proportion of children aged between 9 and 14 who stated that their right to freedom of expression is being violated represents a quarter of the respondents (25,9 %), while that of children aged between 15 and 18 constitutes a half of all the questioned children (53,4%). The right of the child to leisure, to recreational activities and to participate in cultural life is infringed in rural areas more than in urban ones (45,9% and 23,2% respectively), because the first category of children are involved in agricultural and household activities to a greater extent than the latter. In addition to this, children from cities enjoy more free time opportunities. As they grow, children realize the major role of health and they mention the violation of their right to medical assistance (9,7% compared to 3,1%), namely those who have already faced health problems.

Recommendations: To create better and friendlier conditions, that would favor the respect for children’s rights, especially in the environments where children spend more time: family, school, public places, and out-of-school establishments. To promote training programs for children on dealing with risks they encounter in various places and institutions.

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2.4. The level of knowledge of the institutions children can address in cases of child rights violation Most children stated that in case of rights infringement they can seek help from teachers, form teachers, school principal (32,6%) and from parents (29%). Almost a fifth of the respondents would have recourse to legal bodies: police officers, police juvenile division, a lawyer, a jurist (19,4%), whereas around 15% – to public authority representatives: the mayor, the social assistant and members of the local council. Despite the fact that the school and the family represent an environment in which children’s rights are often violated, teachers and parents remain the persons children trust most of all and who are there for children most of the time. Among the other reliable persons and institutions, children cited the following: - International Organizations: UNICEF, ECHR (7,3%) - The Children’s Ombudsman (5,2%) - National and local NGOs (5%) - The psychologist (4,8%) - Friends and schoolmates (4,2%) - Relatives: brothers, grandparents (3,6%). A quarter of the respondents (24,7%) could not name any person or establishment they would address in cases of rights encroachment. Children do not contact the institutions responsible for children’s rights for various reasons: they are not aware of their existence, they do not have confidence in people working for these institutions, they are certain they will be ignored and they even have the sad experience of being blamed for triggering their rights violation by adults because they have not performed their obligations first.

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Boys are more reluctant to have recourse to parents than girls (24,9% compared to 32,2%), to school employees (24% compared to 39,5%) or local public authority representatives (10% compared to 18,1%). This situation is due to the common belief that boys do not have to complain, that is why they refuse to acknowledge that they suffer when their rights are violated, because they fear being laughed at. Children’s rights violation cases are very difficult to solve, it is a very long process and, as a rule, both children and their parents give up or refuse to end it for numerous reasons: fear of vengeance and pressure from the community and peers, corruption etc. Children from rural areas have more confidence in the local public authority, as an institution they can contact in rights violation cases, than those from urban areas (17,3% and 10,3% respectively). In villages, people know each other better than in cities and local public authority representatives are very often persons children rely on. All the children mentioning the Children’s Ombudsman are from rural areas. The percentage of children who would eventually seek help from school representatives is higher among children from villages – 37,1%, than that of children from cities – 25,7%.

Recommendations: Representatives from institutions responsible for child protection must inform children, by all possible means, about their existence, the services they provide and the ways children could get in touch with them and benefit from their assistance etc. The personnel from establishments responsible for child protection require a special training in the following fields: communication with children in accordance with their age, ensuring confidentiality and non-discrimination. Development of children’s ability to address the institutions responsible for child rights.

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2.5. Suggested actions aimed at ensuring child rights respect Approximately a quarter of the respondents (26,3%) consider that in order to have their rights respected they must first perform their obligations, this idea being voiced 1,5 times more often among children aged between 9 and 14. It is due to information manipulation by adults. The latter emphasize only children’s obligations and sometimes dissimulate the true essence of certain rights, as a result, children end up thinking that their rights are not respected because adults’ rights are not respected either. Besides, children always fail to meet grown-ups’ expectations and demands. Children are sure that they are responsible for the respect for their own rights. –– –– –– –– –– –– –– ––

Children must behave, study and follow the rules Children must perform all the tasks given by parents Children must be well educated We must obey our parents and all the adults We must be obedient Children must never forget their responsibilities Children must be polite with the adults We must respect adult’s rights.

A fifth of the respondents (19,8%) believe that a viable solution in this regard would be to inform all children, parents, teachers and other adults about children’s rights and the repercussions caused by their violation. Adolescents suggest this solution to a greater extent than children aged between 9 and 14 (25,7% compared to 16,1%).

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–– The information about children’s rights should reach absolutely everybody –– The government should pass some laws on child protection and parents should be aware of their existence –– Campaigns promoting children’s rights should be carried out –– Seminars, trainings and other events on this matter should be conducted –– Children’s rights should be addressed more often during weekly classes with form teachers –– Children’s rights should receive widespread media coverage –– Children’s rights should be found on the Internet on any website –– First of all, parents should be informed about children’s rights. A small percentage of children think that the development of tolerance and equality in relationships, non-discrimination (5,6%), as well as sanctions, like fines and deprivation of liberty for children’s rights violation (5,3%) would lead to an improvement in the respect for their rights. –– –– –– –– –– –– ––

People should realize that we are all the same and equal Every child should get the attention he/she requires Every human being has rights and obligations from early childhood It is such a generous thing to show toleration towards other people We should all be a little bit more patient and show some more respect We should be kind and friendly Children also have feelings, I don’t like it when adults think they are always right and we are wrong –– A child should be regarded as an adult –– All the conflicts should be solved in a peaceful way

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–– –– –– ––

All the people violating children’s rights must be punished Penalties should be more severe People violating children’s right should be jailed Everybody who is involved in children’s rights infringement should be fined.

Among the other solutions suggested by children we can cite: to consult children’s opinions (3,8%), to create and familiarize children with child protection institutions (2,6%). –– T o respect people around us, paying attention to their views and wishes –– Every child should be considered an important personality, he/she should be respected and his/her opinion should be taken into consideration –– Children’s voice and their wishes should be heard and there should be more opportunities for them –– Children should be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression –– Adults should listen to children’s needs and their concerns –– Children’s decisions should be taken into account –– Every child’s idea should be taken seriously –– All parents must trust their children –– Children should be given all the attention they require, they should be heard and they should be encouraged to freely express their point of view –– Each school must have special organizations that would supervise the respect for children’s rights –– Special commissions and institutions should be created, monitoring the respect for children’s rights within families –– There should be establishments in every locality dealing with children’s rights

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–– –– –– –– ––

To create institutions providing assistance to any issue related to children’s rights To have recourse to children’s rights organizations To contact the social assistance department To improve cooperation with the police department To organize special events, to write petitions.

More than a third of the children (36,6%) do not make any suggestions and do not participate in children’s rights promotion, because they are certain they will not be able to change the current situation.

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3. CHILD RIGHTS IN MOLDOVA – CURRENT SITUATION 3.1. Right to Education: “The right to education is our favorite and the most violated one”. Every child has the right to education and both the Government and all the adults have the responsibility to ensure that every child completes the compulsory and free primary education. School subjects should meet children’s human dignity. One of the major goals of education is enabling children to fully develop their personality, vocations and their mental and physical abilities, it should prepare children for an active life as adults, teaching them principles like compassion, peace, tolerance, gender equality and friendship among all peoples of the world and ethnic, national and religious groups. Articles 28, 29, Convention on the Rights of the Child

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The right to education is infringed both at school and at home. Nowadays, parents’ migration is the hugest issue children have to face. They are left home alone or in the care of their grandparents and relatives. This fact impacts negatively upon children’s education. In many educational establishments sad situations can be found when children are treated unequally, on the basis of various criteria: school performance, assiduity during classes, the family’s social status, and teacher’s relationship with parents. Free education In most schools pupils contribute financially to the school/class funds on a regular basis, money used for class repairs. There are also frequent cases when pupils have to collect money for school supplies, like paper and ink, before taking tests or exams. In many secondary schools and high schools pupils have to pay a certain amount of money for borrowing books or they have to buy them. There is a high rate of school abandonment especially in rural areas Most schools are affected by cases when children have to miss classes or even abandon school, because they work to earn their living. Quite often, one-parent children work side by side with him/her. Sometimes children provide illness certificates to motivate their absence from school, but the reality is that they work with parents. There is a low school attendance among children left behind by migrating parents, because adults responsible for them do not properly ensure/supervise it. In some schools children refuse to attend school, because they are afraid of teachers, as a result of a constant reprimand and discrimination by the latter. There are schools, especially in rural areas, where teachers do not keep record of pupils’ absences.

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The goals of education Each child spends 12 years at school. Unfortunately, it fails to provide him/her with the knowledge he/she will need to fend for him/herself in life. The school program does not include subjects aiming at developing children’s talents and personality, creating an active adult, due to its theoretical character and, quite often, children are asked to simply reproduce what they have been told earlier by teachers. The school should put the emphasis on subjects related to social life. The process of education should be founded on the respect for children’s rights, but bullying, present in schools, is proof that it is not a safe place, where relationships are based upon mutual respect. In every country the progress of education starts with the respect for each child’s personality. The quality of teaching Teachers in most schools have a traditional way of teaching, they are passive during classes, and they sit at their tables and give pupils plenty of assignments. There are cases when Physical Education teachers do not accompany pupils to sports grounds, telling them to find an activity during the course of the lesson. The education process is also affected by the fact that teachers are insufficiently trained or prepared for the lessons. There are situations in which teachers do not provide any explanation on the topic, asking pupils to study at home, on their own. There are also teachers who discuss with pupils matters unrelated to school, others rebuke pupils for misbehaving and don’t have time to explain the new topic. It occurs that pupils have to take tests on topics they have not studied during the classes. Certain teachers realize they want to asses pupils’ performance minutes before the end of the lesson and the latter have to do all the tasks in a shorter period of time. Optional classes are also performed with difficulties in certain schools. There are teachers missing these classes, because they have to come to school only for them on that day.

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Optional classes are also performed with difficulties in certain schools. There are teachers missing these classes, because they have to come to school only for them on that day. In many localities there are no free time activities/clubs that would meet their interests and skills and this prevents children from developing their abilities. Physical conditions and the level of equipment of schools for practical classes The furniture in many schools is old. In certain schools it does not correspond to children’s age, being designed for primary pupils. There are schools in which classrooms and gyms are too small in comparison with the number of pupils in each class. Most gyms are not properly equipped, thus children have to buy balls for basketball, volleyball, football etc. There have been identified several schools lacking gyms, that is why pupils have Physical Education lessons only during the warm period of the school year, on the sports ground. In most rural schools and certain urban ones, there are no laboratories for practical classes, like chemistry, physics and biology. It was also found that the existing laboratories lack equipment and materials needed for experiments and this prevents pupils from performing properly the school program. Access to information Due to a lack of computers in schools or to their insufficient number, compared to that of pupils, many children have limited access to information. In many schools Internet surfing is impossible, either because there is no Internet connection, or because only teachers are allowed to use them. Most school libraries do not meet pupils’ needs in

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terms of school program. Even if the library possesses the necessary literature, the number of books available is insufficient. There are also libraries offering books in the old Cyrillic alphabet. Pupils from some regions can not use the school and village libraries’ services, because their working schedules coincide with that of most schools. In certain schools there are no sufficient books for all pupils, thus they have to share, 2-3 the same book. The respect for children’s opinion On the whole, teachers do not take into account children’s opinions, interests and wishes. It concerns both school and extracurricular activities. Teachers alone select the matters to address during weekly classes with form teachers, they also assign responsibilities during festivities held at school, they decide who is allowed to partake in them and who is not, etc. There are teachers not permitting pupils to express freely their views in all schools. The most affected ones, in this regard, are small children. There are frequent situations when children are not involved in the choice of optional classes. The decision of what optional class should be taught in schools is based on the presence of appropriate teachers or the classes ending with an examination. Non-discrimination Many teachers treat pupils differently, according to certain criteria: school performance, assiduity during classes, the family’s social status, and teachers’ relationship with parents. As a rule, pupils who are not teachers’ favorite ones are ignored or even humiliated.

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Free time and leisure

In certain schools teachers compel pupils to attend school during vacation to get ready for exams. There are also cases when pupils are kept in classrooms during breaks, failing to teach the material within the regular 45 minutes, sometimes due to late coming teachers. Medical assistance in school The medical assistant is not always available in many schools. It was found that quite often the medical personnel are not ready to perform their obligations or do not provide timely medical assistance. Many medical rooms are not properly equipped and lack the necessary medication for first aid provision. Insufficient human and financial resources Many schools are affected by the problem of a lack of specialists for certain subjects, as a result, they are taught by teachers who do not have the correct qualification (for instance: the Physical Education teacher teaches also physics and astronomy). In many schools there are cases when one teacher leads (as a form teacher) two classes of pupils. The main reason, invoked by adults for the insufficiently or inadequately equipped classrooms, including the absence of Internet connection, is the lack of finances. There are also cases when parents gather money “to increase” teachers’ salaries. In many schools pupils pay to attend private lessons, to be given higher grades in subjects or in

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the school-leaving examination. Due to insufficient finances for these purposes, children from socially disadvantaged families get lower grades, regardless of their knowledge or assiduity.

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3.2. Right to Participate: „Participating we become better informed persons, we get more knowledge and experience”. Each child has the right to freely express his/her opinion on any problem of his/her concern; children’s views should be taken into consideration, in accordance with their age and degree of maturity. Children have the right to freedom of speech; it upholds the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, it includes any medium of the child’s choice, be it orally, in written, in print or through art forms, except cases in which it violates other people’s rights. Children have the right to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly. Children have the right to engage in recreational activities appropriate to their age and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. Thus children build up their own personality. Articles 12, 13, 15 and 31, Convention on the Rights of the Child

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The right to participate is a good way for children to build up their personality. Participation does not mean manipulation. Many children though cannot tell the authentic participation from the false one. It is due to the fact that they are not informed by adults and the latter do not inform them, fearing that, as a result, children will only know their rights and will forget about responsibilities. Another reason for not allowing children to express freely their opinions, to make decisions concerning their private life is the fact that adults believe children are simply not ready to make them. The opportunity to make decisions related to private life Many children are not able to develop their abilities, because in numerous families adults do not take into consideration children’s opinions, skills and interests. Sometimes, children are forced by parents to choose the subjects of study (science or humanities). Certain parents do not agree with the way their children spend their free time, the hobbies they choose or the interest clubs in which they participate. The reasons why parents forbid children from taking part in certain activities are the following: they do not consider they help children to develop their skills or to prepare them for the future, these activities disturb children’s daily schedule or they are not traditionally-oriented activities for boys and girls. There are also cases in which parents intimidate their children (“you will never become a minister, anyway”, “crooked legs are not for dance”) or they refuse to provide them with necessary equipment (uniform, sport footwear). There are also frequent cases when children are influenced by adults/peers to adopt certain clothing, music styles etc.

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Within families children do not have the chance to choose the appropriate household activities. As a rule, parents make these decisions, without consulting with children. Quite often younger children are forced by their elder brothers or sisters to perform the tasks the latter are responsible for. Most children with parents working abroad have to perform themselves all the household chores. Thus, they have no spare time for participating in various activities. The choice of optional subjects Children believe that optional subjects could be useful for their development if they met their needs and interests. Unfortunately, teachers alone choose optional hours in most schools and they do not consult with children and parents when making these decisions. In certain cases, parents choose optional subjects that their children will study without consulting with them. Sometimes teachers have recourse to lies to persuade pupils to opt for a particular subject. For instance, the teacher promised there would be an entertaining maths optional subject, but in reality it did not differ in any way from the ordinary maths class. In many other schools pupils are forced to attend optional classes and sometimes they even get grades. There are also cases when pupils, having a good performance in a subject, are compelled to choose the same optional class, because they are threatened it is the only way they can keep their high grades. According to the group members, teachers choose the optional subjects for the following reasons: –– pupils are not aware of the fact that they have the right to choose the optional classes they like

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–– parents are not informed that they have the right to choose the optional classes their children will attend –– teachers use optional classes to ensure that the required number of teaching hours is reached, they explain the choice for certain subjects, by the need to prepare pupils for tests or exams –– it is convenient for teachers, since they have all the necessary lesson plans and materials for subjects they impose upon pupils –– the same optional classes, chosen by previous graduates, are traditionally organized in certain schools. Freedom of expression and consultation with children In most schools there are no means or methods of collecting children’s opinions on the educational process and the extracurricular activities. Most adults are not aware of children’s right to freedom of expression or they have a wrong understanding of it. Quite often children’s participation is perceived as a game and, as a result, their involvement is just a simulation. Plenty of teachers can not tell freedom of expression from bad behavior (“impudence”), especially when children and adults have contradictory opinions. In most schools teachers are selective about respecting children’s rights; they listen and take into account the opinions of a small group of pupils, whom they favor, because they have a better school performance and an excellent behavior, they come from “good families”, they have financial resources or they are related to teachers. In many cases, even if teachers consult with pupils, it is far from being a genuine process, due to the fact that adults do not take into consideration the expressed opinions. There are no opportunities for children to freely express their views on the methods of teaching and assessment used during the lessons or teachers’ communication style (discussions,

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questionnaires, anonymous message boxes etc.). In certain schools only young teachers use new, interactive methods that appeal to most pupils. As a rule, pupils do not have the possibility for choosing the matters addressed during weekly classes with form teachers. The latter develop their lesson plans for a school year in August, without analyzing first pupils’ interests and needs. This plan is not modified throughout the year. There are rare cases when teachers consult with pupils the topics the latter would like to address, nevertheless pupils’ opinions are not taken into account, due to a lack of information and materials in the field. Quite often pupils are not allowed to express their views in case they contradict teachers’ opinions. In order to impose their own views upon pupils, teachers threaten to punish them, to give them bad grades in subjects and in behavior or they have recourse to verbal and physical violence. Teachers consult with children extremely rarely on matters like the educational process, extracurricular activities, school regulations, the activities of self-governing bodies (school senate, school council). Most adults have little or no understanding of the right to participation and, as a result, children’s involvement becomes a perfunctory action. Children can not develop their skills because, in many families, parents fail to take into consideration children’s opinions, abilities and interests. Involvement in extracurricular activities In most schools extracurricular activities – interest clubs, parties, festivities, contests and school Olympiads – are planned and held without consultation with children. There are no opportunities for children to give some feedback on the conducted activities. The result is often a perfunctory and even forced involvement of pupils, threatened with bad grades in subjects or in behavior.

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In most schools, the existing interest clubs do not meet children’s interests and skills. Their contents are developed in accordance with teachers’ abilities and preferences; it is also due to the lack of adults trained to carry out the activities children find appealing. In addition to this, certain activities children express interest in are far from being approved by teachers (“the break-dance club contradicts school’s values”). As a rule, children’s initiatives to organize extracurricular activities clash with teachers’ rejection. Due to a limited number of available places, as well as the adult coordinators’ preference to deal with children demonstrating highly developed skills at activities required by the interest club, children have a reduced access to them in most schools. Even children’s participation in various contests and school Olympiads is selective. As a rule, teachers’ favorite pupils are given priority – pupils with good grades in subject and in behavior. There are also cases when interest clubs are not available on a regular basis, for the schedule is not properly followed. Often contests are organized only up to the district or regional level. In most schools pupils are provided with incomplete information about parties, competitions and other extracurricular activities carried out: they neither explain, nor even list their objectives, participation requirements, benefits one can get by participating, the participation criteria, the organizers’ contact information etc. Sometimes, pupils fail to get ready for the above listed activities, due to the fact that they are not timely informed on their contents and requirements. Certain teachers do not foresee an adequate preparation of pupils participating in contests or school Olympiads. In the wake of the competitions, pupils do not have the opportunity to draw some conclusions from their participation, for the organizers announce the results without providing any explanation on the participants’ performance. There have been reports of several cases when the outcomes had not been made public at the school level.

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Among the reasons why children are not willing to participate in extracurricular activities, related to art, they enumerate: –– Only adults develop the scenarios of these activities, they orchestrate the whole process – they decide who is going to play an active role and who is going to be a spectator, they tell pupils what to do and what to say, how to dress and what make-up to wear. –– One common practice consists in repeating the scenarios of the previous years and/or they are not in accordance with children’s age. –– Teachers encourage the participation of the same children, either because they prefer them to the others or they already have some experience of this type of activities. These children’s previous experience facilitates form teachers’ job and they gain confidence that children will succeed (“they will not bring shame on the class or school”). –– Quite often children participate perfunctorily in competitions, for the winners are known in advance. As a rule, the winner selection criteria are not known by competitors or they are not correctly applied. –– While preparing to participate in an activity, children are frequently prohibited from associating with peers of their choice or from seeking advice from certain adults. –– Children from socially disadvantaged families, those who are poorly dressed or those lacking any participation experience in similar events, are usually laughed at by adults or by their classmates when they attempt to get involved in these activities. If they fail to succeed in competitions, it puts an end to their wishes for a subsequent participation; they are not allowed to get involved any more. Certain communities include non-governmental organizations promoting children’s participation and freedom of expression within seminars and summer schools. They enhance children’s opportunities to engage in volunteer activities and facilitate their access to information.

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Self-governing bodies There are schools which do not have self-governing bodies representing the ideas and opinions of all the pupils – school senate/council/parliament. In most schools where these structures are present, children who are not their members are not aware of their existence or they have little or no understanding of their role, the way they are organized and run, as well as the requirements for joining them. As a rule, the election of the school council members and the class representatives is not a transparent procedure and is often performed without children’s participation. Election simulation is a common practice, the final decision belonging to the form teacher alone. Sometimes, the same person is appointed as a class representative during the course of several years, even if he/she is unwilling to assume this responsibility. In many schools, the activity of the self-governing body is orchestrated and manipulated by teachers. There have been reports of situations when self-governing body representatives were completely unaware of their mission and responsibilities. Adults also develop the school senate’s/council’s plan of activities, which sometimes includes the form teacher’s or the school administration’s tasks (keeping record of pupils’ absences, children’s performance, discussing “bad” pupils’ evolution during parents meetings etc.). Unfortunately, this essential body plays only a perfunctory role, its sessions being convoked by teachers irregularly, on demand. Many adults from local schools and NGOs do not understand the essence of volunteerbased participation and they encourage children to become self-governing body members on the grounds of high school performance and excellent behavior etc. Children – members of these bodies enjoy many benefits: their late comings and absences are often overlooked; they have opportunities for informal communication with teachers or they are not punished for regulation violations. Nevertheless, there are

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situations when class representatives bear the burden of the whole class: they organize parties, they collect money for purchase of materials needed for tests and exams and they are even reprimanded for other pupils’ wrongdoings. Many teachers administer school discipline by threatening pupils with exclusion from school self-governing bodies. School policies Children in many schools are not informed about the existence of school regulations or they are not aware of these provisions. In certain schools though, policies are developed with the participation of self-governing bodies. In most cases, children do not have access to school regulations, because this document is kept in the teacher’s room, a place forbidden to children. In none of the schools attended by members of the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring, school policies have been consulted with children. These regulations are outdated, the rules are formulated vaguely and children (both primary and high school pupils) find it hard to understand their general character. In some cases, teachers explain that regulations have been developed by former pupils. As a rule, at the class level, teachers assign pupils’ obligations without consulting them with the latter. Non-compliance with school policies, as well as failure to fulfill obligations, trigger serious sanctions, according to teachers, whereas penalties for children’s rights infringement are not mentioned anywhere.

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Material, human and financial resources Both schools and communities lack financial resources to support some of children’s initiatives and to carry out activities aimed at promoting child participation. In most schools, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) do not allot money, from the collected funds, to activities with children. Usually children, as well as their parents, do not have access to the information regarding the way PTAs have spent the money. As a rule, teachers claim the money covers the costs of school repairs. Sometimes, local public authority representatives promise to allocate resources to activities planned by school councils or local youth councils, but afterwards they do not keep their promises. The invoked reason for the rejection is that the money destined for activities has been spent on renovating the school or the canteen. There are also cases when, although available, neither the school, nor the cultural center allow children to use the assembly hall for rehearsals while preparing for an event. Sometimes, Youth Resource Centers supply children with materials for certain activities.

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3.3. Right to Protection against Violence, Abuse and Neglect: „Does spanking make us better children?� Both the Government and adults must protect children from all forms of physical or emotional violence exercised by his/her parents, legal guardians or any other person who has the care of the child and to adopt prevention and treatment programs regarding this problem. The child has the right to protection against exploitation and sexual abuse, including involvement in prostitution and pornography. The Government and adults should use their best efforts to prevent child kidnapping, selling and trafficking. Articles 16, 19, 20, Convention on the Rights of the Child In spite of the fact that there are families and classes in which children, parents and teachers get along, without having recourse to violence, many children are victims of adult and peer bullying. Violence is largely encountered in schools, on the street, in families, almost everywhere.

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Emotional violence, intimidation and teasing In a great majority of schools, in order to communicate with children, both teachers and pupils use nicknames related to their exterior aspect, their first or last names. Some teachers call pupils exclusively by their last names. In order to impose discipline upon pupils and/or express dissatisfaction with them, numerous teachers use to shout at children, they call them animals, they use hurtful or obscene language, they make humiliating gestures (they touch several times the ear, which means stupidity), they threaten them with a spanking, bad grades or expulsion from school. Certain teachers have recourse to collective punishment as a result of the misbehavior of one single pupil, like giving everybody bad grades in behavior or spring on them unannounced tests etc. Similar situations result into quarrels among pupils. Some other methods of punishment are: breaking personal belongings passed among pupils during the lesson or doing genuflexions. Most adults do not analyze conflict situations from the child’s perspective and tend to blame him/her for everything. When it comes to conflicts between children and adults, it is widely considered that the latter are always right. Some teachers think it is appropriate to label pupils in accordance with their school performance and their family’s financial situation. There are also frequent situations when teachers use words that underestimate children – “you are useless”, “you are not going to become a famous football player, anyway”, “you are fat and you keep eating all the time”. Sometimes, teachers make jokes about children, they do not take into account what the latter say or do and they have the conviction that certain children can not express “serious opinions”. Most children find themselves compared between them by parents, teachers and other grown-ups. Teachers have the habit of comparing classes, too (“the worst class in the

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school’s history”). Although, the comparison aims at stimulating competition among pupils, in reality it leads to children humiliation, a loss of motivation and a worsening relationship between them. When children from the same family attend the same school, the elder child’s performance will impact upon teachers’ expectations of the younger one. Children from many schools use nicknames or even obscene words while talking to each other. This is their way of demonstrating superiority or clarifying a dispute. Children imitate everything they witness around them, due to the fact that they do not know other methods of expressing their opinions or dissatisfaction towards somebody/something. In most schools there are cases when children play hurtful tricks on their schoolmates (they tie clothes together with a knot, they raise girls’ skirts, they search and hide satchels etc.). Children usually have recourse to tricks in order to have fun or to feel superior. Children from socially disadvantaged families, children with health issues or timid ones often fall victims to these tricks. Regardless of the author of a wrongdoing, pupils tend to put the blame on the classmate they want to take revenge on. Children laugh at their peers’ feelings and views, sometimes without realizing that they hurt them. Some children humiliate peers, due to the fact that they belong to a different religious community, they look differently or they come from socially disadvantaged families. As a rule, older pupils deprive smaller ones of their money, personal belongings or food (apples, rolls etc.). In exchange they often promise protection from other children. Teachers are aware of this phenomenon, but refuse to intervene, because they think children have to learn to extricate themselves from difficult situations: “they have to clarify their disputes by themselves”. Sometimes, pupils – victims of their peers’ tricks are blamed and rebuked – “you are to blame, haven’t I told you to stay in class during the break?”

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Neglect In many schools there are frequent cases when teachers do not check pupils’ homework, which prevents the latter from assessing their knowledge. The reasons for this situation are the following: teachers focus entirely on the new topic, they sometimes come too late or they are upset due to personal problems. As for children participation during classes and/or homework checking, only children with a good school performance or favorite ones (due to a better financial situation or relationship with their families) are encouraged to get involved. Ignored children’s attempts to get teachers’ attention, clash with the latter’s cold response: “I don’t have time for you, I’ll decide when to listen to you”, “when you become a teacher, you’ll do whatever you’ll want, but now, I choose whom to listen to”. In most schools certain teachers assign tasks without explaining them in advance and this makes it hard for children to study. Some of these teachers lack professional experience, others go through negative emotional states, they are exhausted, troubled etc. Sometimes, teachers refuse to explain the new topic if certain pupils are not attentive and, as a punishment, they assign difficult tasks, related to it, to everybody. In certain schools, parents meetings are organized at inconvenient time (during working hours) and they fail to attend them. Others find them useless and refuse to partake. Parents’ reluctance is also explained by the fact that teachers blame them for their children’s behavior. Often, pupils do not let parents know about meetings, because they are aware that teachers will only criticize them. Some parents neglect their children’s needs for proper nourishment, communication with peers, support and encouragement, participation in school and extracurricular activities etc. Lack of respect for pupils’ opinions and the neglect of their needs are also forms of violence. Among the reasons for the perpetuation of this situation there are: parents’ refusal to acknowledge children’s rights, styles of education deriving from parents’ religious beliefs, parents’ migration and alcohol consumption.

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Physical violence Both physical and verbal violence is regarded by many parents as a method of children education. In reality, there is absolutely no reason for which a child should be attacked, hurt or insulted. Education does not presuppose violence. On the contrary, the child victim of violence becomes aggressive towards others or unfriendly and isolated. Children with alcoholic parents or orphan children are usually more exposed to violence. In many families, parents spank children for educational purpose or because they blame them for their failures. Parents: –– slap children across the face –– hit them with various objects (a rod, a belt, a whip, a carpet beater, a broom) –– throw objects at them (a hammer, a pitchfork) –– extinguish cigarettes on children’s hands, arms. There are teachers having recourse to bullying in order to impose discipline upon children in most schools. Among the usual types of bullying children cite: –– slaps on the face, on the nape of the neck, under the chin and on the back –– pulling a child’s ear, nose, cheek, hair, whiskers –– jolting a child –– throat/shoulder lift –– hitting children’s hands with objects (pointing sticks, rulers, sticks used for performing physical exercises) –– objects thrown at pupils (registers, books, pieces of chalk, wiping rags, chairs). In most schools, there are children who opt for bullying in order to resolve conflicts, because they are unfamiliar with any peaceful methods, they cannot express their opinion and they are not able to protest against injustice without using physical force.

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Thus, pupils punch each other in the face/in the back, twist each other’s arms, trip up, hit legs and throw objects at one another etc. Often these fights result in breaking school furniture and other objects. Some teachers use physical force to punish fighting pupils. Adults fail to understand the consequences of children exposure to violence; nevertheless it impacts greatly upon children’s soul, behavior and personality. Every spanking causes pain, every verbal reprimand leads to emotional suffering. Children exposed to physical abuse feel not just pain, but also humiliation. In both cases, children feel helpless, aggrieved and neglected. As a result, their development is halted by both adults and everybody else who is indifferent to the suffering of others.

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3.4. Right to Protection against Labor Exploitation : „Children forced to work are deprived of other rights as well”. Both adults and Government should protect children from admission to employment that is likely to be hazardous to the child’s health and development or to interfere with his/her education. It should be established a minimum age for admission to employment and appropriate regulations of working hours and conditions. Each child has the right to protection against his/her use in the illicit production and trafficking of narcotic and psychotropic drugs. Article 32, Convention on the Rights of the Child Childhood and adolescence are two periods of life when children develop and prepare for adult life. School years are important steps for a child’s maturation and the school is the most adequate place where he/she can develop his/her knowledge and abilities. Nevertheless, certain adults and children believe work is more important than school. Child labor and family There is a great number of children working side by side with their parents to contribute to their families’ financial security. Besides helping around the house, some of these children

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work in the field or on construction sites, they take care of sheep and cattle. There are also situations in which parents are unemployed and children work and support all the family members. Most children with parents abroad have to work. Some of them are forced to do it, because they get little or no support from their parents. Parents’ absence is the reason why these children have to assume responsibilities that are not in accordance with their age: they take care of their younger brothers’ and sisters’ health and daily activities, they look after animals, work in the field and ensure house repairs. Other children are forced to work by parents. The latter borrow money to pay bills, to buy food, clothes or even alcohol and children have to work and pay off all debts. In most cases the money children earn is administered by parents and children have no access to it. In all the cases mentioned above children have to miss school: some are late for the first classes, others attend school only several days a week. There are also many dropouts. In order to increase spare money, some children often choose to work in their free time or during vacation, even if they are given an allowance by parents or the latter send them money from abroad. There is a growing trend towards taking children aged between 15 and 18 abroad to help parents to work. They perform various activities there, in the following fields – construction, bars and services – together with their parents or separately. Some of these children work abroad during summer vacation; others abandon school and join their parents in a foreign country to seek for an employment. The reasons for the departure are different: either their families struggle with financial issues or their parents insist on it. In most cases, children are employed illegally, namely there is no contract stipulating the number of working hours, the minimum wage and there is no legal parental consent.

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Child labor and school Certain teachers force pupils to work for them - to chop wood for fire, to gather the harvest, to weed the garden – in exchange for certain benefits, like preferential treatment, good grades in subjects and in behavior. Some schools make agreements with local agricultural societies, without consulting with children and force them to participate in fruit and vegetable gathering. Forbidden and hazardous jobs Due to an inadequate supervision of children by parents and an enormous lack of knowledge as regards children’s needs and rights, there are cases when children are used in activities that are harmful to their health and life. Some of them are forced by parents to beg from door to door, in the streets or by the churches. Disabled children are more often involved in begging, for they provoke pity. Some children work long hours in hot or cold weather in the field or in construction; at night they work in restaurants, bars or discos. Many of these environments are dangerous for children and have inadequate hygienic conditions – dark rooms, noise, adults who smoke, drink alcohol or are even violent. Children working on construction sites are unaware of necessary protection measures – they are not provided with hard hats, construction gloves and equipment for work at height. Children exploitation through labor is often accompanied by violence against them: adults beat and humiliate children if they fail to fulfill the assigned tasks. Exploitation through labor impacts greatly upon a child’s personality, both physically and morally. Children’s health is in danger, because work deprives them of free time (they suffer trauma, they catch a cold, they are overworked). Children’s development is also affected, because they do not attend school regularly, they are deprived of rest and recreational activities, and they do not have the opportunity to communicate with their peers or to make friends.

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3.5. Right to Rest, Leisure and Play: „Many children in Moldova don’t have free time at all”. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to rest and leisure, the right to engage in recreational activities and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. Article 31, Convention on the Rights of the Child The Group found that children’s right to rest and leisure is infringed: when they are overloaded with homework, when parents get involved in choosing an activity related to children’s free time, when adults do not ensure that children’s playgrounds are safe, when parents can not afford children’s free time activities and when there is a common practice of bullying and discrimination in places where they spend their spare time. Places where children spend their leisure activities Communities in urban areas provide a wide variety of leisure activities for children (parks, cafes, Internet clubs, reintegration centers, day centers, local youth councils, cultural centers, libraries, stadiums, interest clubs, dance halls, gyms, art schools, music schools, playgrounds etc.). Some of these places are not always available, others are simply registered. As for rural areas, there are very few institutions of this kind.

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Communities do not offer sufficient specially equipped places for children to engage in free time activities. There are also cases when adults use the existing places for other purposes. Bars mushroom in courtyards, while most playgrounds are transformed into parking lots. In most cases, children from urban areas have more pocket money than those from rural areas, thus they have more opportunities to spend their free time. On the other hand, in rural areas, only children with parents working abroad can afford spending money on similar activities. The schedule of the institutions providing leisure activities In certain localities, the schedule of the institutions, specialized in free time activities, does not coincide with children’s daily program. Interest clubs start their activity before the end of the school lessons or right after they finish, thus certain children fail to arrive in time and/or do not have lunch. School libraries are open only during the lessons and children have to miss classes in order to go to the library. In most cases, interest clubs close for summer vacation and this is exactly when children would have more free time for the activities they carry out. There have been reports of cases when workers from institutions providing free time activities do not follow the schedule, either they stop work for unlimited period of time or they leave before the official closing hour. Recreational places for children and safety practices The physical conditions of many recreational places for children are inadequate and often harmful to their health:

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–– playground equipment is outdated, rusty and damaged –– power poles placed in the proximity of playgrounds and sports grounds are usually not surrounded by a protection fence –– homeless dogs play and roam about playgrounds –– playgrounds are located next to busy roads, markets which are dirty, gullies and unauthorized dumping sites –– most places for leisure activities (parks, stadiums) lack toilets or the existing ones are not cleaned regularly –– there are no shower cabins or sinks in most dance rooms and gyms. Both parents and their children are not sufficiently informed about security measures to be taken in places where the latter spend their spare time, moreover most institutions do not provide an emergency evacuation plan. Access to leisure activities for children with special needs Places where children spend their free time are not suitable for children with special needs – wheelchair access and elevators, suitable bathrooms. Children with special needs are unwilling to get involved in free time activities, due to the fact that the personnel working in these establishments ignore them and do not create an atmosphere favoring children interaction. Human resources In urban areas, as a rule, the institutions specialized in leisure activities hire trained and experienced personnel for the job, whereas in rural areas, hired people have neither knowledge, nor experience in the field.

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Due to the lack of trained personnel, many interest clubs do not meet children’s authentic aspirations. For example: children have to attend folk dance classes, because there is no specialist in ballroom dancing, an activity they asked for. In all the institutions of this kind (cultural centers, interest clubs etc.) certain representatives do not have either the ability or the experience to communicate with children, to use interactive methods and consult their opinions. Few establishments have among the hired personnel an expert responsible for supervising the equipment children use and repairing the damaged one. Access to information Children are often not properly informed about the leisure activities available in various institutions and about the changes that occur in their usual schedule. Access to equipment Often children do not have access to the equipment and the materials required by a free time activity, although the institutions have them. There are situations when children find accidentally about the establishments’ supplies and only then get access to the equipment. As a rule, only adults administer the materials, children being prevented from participating to this process. Adult coordinators decide when to allow children to use the equipment and in what conditions. For instance: the new balls are kept under lock and key and they are used only during inspections.

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Protection against discrimination and violence There are frequent cases of child discrimination within recreational centers in many regions of the country. Disagreements between adults (parents and coordinators) often affect children, because they are rejected when trying to join an interest club. Children form socially disadvantaged families have limited access to paid leisure activities. Although elementary education is compulsory, Romany children are not allowed to join interest clubs and engage in other leisure activities; both adults and their peers label and tease them. In other cases children are forced to attend interest clubs that do not meet their aspirations. Many parents insist on children choosing less expensive activities (for instance: drawing paper is more affordable than shoes for dancing or sport). Quite often teachers force their “favorite� pupils to participate in activities they are responsible for, threatening them with bad grades in subjects or deprivation of certain benefits. There are also cases when leisure activities coordinators loose their temper with children and become violent towards them. Small children do not always have access to sports grounds or playfields, because older ones chase them off, steal their equipment and intimidate them. The respect for children’s opinion Sometimes, the decision about the way a child is going to spend his/her free time is made by parents, teachers or older brothers and sisters. For example: certain parents believe that children should participate in activities related to their future profession or that they should not be costly.

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As a rule, adults do not take into account children’s opinions when they suggest a free time activity or before opening a new interest club. Financial resources Local administration budgets do not have sufficient resources to ensure the quality of the children’s leisure activities. This does not enable children to carry out their initiatives. There have been reports of cases when the money allocated to such activities had been used for other purposes. Parents who want their children to attend various interest clubs have to raise money to purchase the necessary materials and equipment.

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4.CHILD RIGHTS FUTURE IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA One of the assignments of the members of the Working Group for Child Rights Monitoring, within the seventh workshop, held in August 2009, was to produce a poster on the future of children’s rights. This is how children see their future: they go to school gladly, the school develops a less overloaded curricula and teachers adopt new, interactive methods of teaching; children have enough free time; they have unlimited access to information and the discrimination has been eradicated. The bright colors used in posters reflect children’s happiness. It is also expressed in the words written with capital letters: WE ARE HAPPY! OUR RIGHTS ARE RESPECTED! WE ARE EQUAL! PARENTS DO NOT HAVE TO LEAVE!

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Some children envision a future in which all Children’s Rights are respected: “My rights are respected” – Right to Participate and Association, Right to Medical Assistance, Right to Free Time and Leisure, Right to Protection against Labor Exploitation, Right to Private Life, Right to Education, Right to Protection against all forms of Violence and Right to a Family.

Other children hope to have “a happy family in the nearest future”, they believe the respect for children’s rights is the key to a beautiful life, as well as the solution to many other issues children face: schooling, the respect for children’s opinion in the society, nondiscrimination of ethnic minorities and child protection from labor exploitation.

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A beaten child, who does not attend school, alone and dirty, forced to work, finally reaches the land of happy future. This land offers him/ her everything he/she has ever wanted, love and protection, he/she is glad his/her life is not like it used to be in the past and the child realizes that childhood is truly wonderful – this is a “vision of Children’s Rights in the future”.

In the future all children will have access to information and materials vital for their development, both in libraries and on Internet, the latter will be accepted as one of children’s free time activities.

Parents will not go abroad seeking a better job and all families will be reunited. Children will enjoy equal rights, regardless of their race, religion and social status; they will be protected from all forms of discrimination. Numerous sources of information will be available for children. This is another vision of Children’s Rights in the future.


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Annex Questionnaire Hello! Please fill in this questionnaire about children’s rights. Your opinion is very important, so we encourage you to honestly answer all questions. You don’t need to write your name on this questionnaire. It is anonymous and be sure that no one will find out what answers you gave. Filling in the questionnaire will not take you much time. Choose from the suggested options the one that suits you best (put a tick in the appropriate box or circle it) or enter your answer. Thank you so much for your help and time. 1. You are:

3. You live in:

4. You study in:

 Girl

 Village

 General School

 Boy

 City

 Gymnasium  High School

2. You are____years old

 Professional School

Name 5 rights of the child you are aware of:

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Where did you learn about these rights from? (you can select up to 3 variants) Parents Friends Teachers Newspapers, magazines, television, radio Brochures, books Internet Someone else / something else (specify) Where / in what documents can one find information about children’s rights? To what extent children’s rights are respected in your community? (circle one option) 1

2

(not respected at all)

3

4

5 (fully respected)

In what environment / where do you think children’s rights are violated most often? (you can select up to 3 variants) Home Street School

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Group of friends Places for play and leisure (cultural centres, houses of creation, interest clubs, sports grounds) Public areas (shops, cafes, cinemas, theatres) Other places (specify) What rights of the child are most often violated? Write individuals / institutions, organizations children may contact when their rights are violated? How would you like to be informed about the children’s rights? (you can select up to 3 variants) Parents Friends Teachers Newspapers, magazines, television, radio Brochures, books Internet Someone else / something else (specify) What should be done to ensure the respect for children’s rights? Thank you!

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THE WORKING GROUP FOR THE CHILD RIGHTS MONITORING IN MOLDOVA Alina Porombrica, Ana Tulgara, Ana Maria Harea, Anastasia Codreanu, Cristina Chirilov, Cristina Pulbere, Denis Zagorodniuc, Ecaterina Procopeţ, Elena Coniuhov, Elena Obleac, Eugen Ciolan, Gabriela Croitoru, Igor Lai, Ina Creciun, Ion Coliban, Irina Guşan, Janna Kiseeva, Lidia Galus, Mihaela Cuschevici, Nicolae Tabanschi, Robert Cinciuc, Sabin Cernogal, Sabina Guţan, Tatiana Rusu, Valeria Roşca, Vasile Negară, and Victoria Lungu.


The poster dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, published by Child Rights Information Centre Moldova (CRIC). The concept of the poster was developed by children – members of the Working Group for the Child Rights Monitoring in Moldova. Contributions: Igor Guzun & Lică Sainciuc. The poster was printed with the support of UNICEF Moldova and Ikea.


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CHILDREN CHILDREN’S REPORT ON THE RESPECT OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. 2009

Truth voiced by children  
Truth voiced by children  

TRUTH VOICED BY CHILDREN Children’s Report on the Respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Moldova. 2009 URM...

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