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Child protection experts discuss the protection of vulnerable children

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Child protection experts discuss the protection of vulnerable children

Committee on Youth Affairs, Culture and Sports of the Senate of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan with the support of UNICEF held a roundtable discussion dedicated to the protection of vulnerable children.

The event is organized in close cooperation with the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis for Child Rights and Ministry of Mahalla and Family Support.

The event is aimed at taking stock of achievements and lessons learned in preventing adolescents’ placement in specialized educational upbringing institutions and ensuring adequate reintegration into their families and communities.

Participants of the event underlined that deprivation of liberty should only be used as a measure of last resort, for the shortest appropriate time, and should be limited to exceptional cases according to international standards.

“Assessment of the family history of children in the specialized educational upbringing institutions shows that most of them come from dysfunctional families. Underlying causes are often related to difficulties in sustaining the livelihood, alcohol abuse, or sometimes untreated mental illnesses within the family”, said Odiljon Iminov, Chairperson of the Committee of the Senate on Science, Education and Health. “If we focus on early identification and prevention, we will enhance protection of children and wellbeing of their families. This, in turn, will also contribute to reducing the unnecessary separation of girls and boys from their families and placement of children in all types of institutional care”, he added.

Participants of the roundtable discussion also discussed challenges regarding the reintegration of children from the Republican educational upbringing institutions. Upon return from the closed institutions, many adolescents continue to face the same range of unresolved social issues that contributed to their placement in closed facilities. They might not be accepted back by parents, other family members, schools and communities. Therefore, it is crucial to improve reintegration services for children returning from closed institutions, in particular, support services to families.

“Effective reintegration in the best interests of children requires development and implementation of community-based prevention services. This includes social support and assistance to families and children in difficult life situations, parenting skills programs, provision of counseling, information and advice and other services”, said Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan. “It is important to improve support services to parents and families to prepare them for the reintegration”, he added.

Among others, participants recommended enhancing regulatory frameworks and inter-sectoral collaboration; strengthening capacities of relevant professionals and strengthening family support services at community-level; addressing detrimental social norms, including harmful gender norms; and improving monitoring and evaluation of services provided and documenting their effectiveness in enhancing the protection and wellbeing of children and their families, including in preventing risks associated with harm or offending within children.

UzA