By Daniela Shkalla*
Tomorrow is June 1, the World Day of Children.
On this day, each one of us must reflect over our efforts to protect children and help them in developing their potentials.
The World Day of Children originates from the “World Conference for the Wellbeing of Children”, held in Geneva in 1925. This conference, which saw the participation of over 54 countries, approved “The Declaration of Geneva for the Protection of Children”, which focused on poverty, prevention of children to work, education and other issues relating to wellbeing of the children throughout the world. After this conference, many different countries decided to make June 1 the Children Day, to encourage all children to enjoy themselves and to focus the attention of society on the issues of children.
Although all children must celebrate on this day, many of them do not enjoy this right. Hundreds of children are deprived of the right to have a family, to be fed, to go to school, to play, etc. Extreme poverty, dysfunctional families, exploitation at work, forced begging, the lack of a functional system to protect children, the existence of a fragmentized system which is supposed to defend their rights, the challenges and difficulties to efficiently implement the tasks and responsibilities on a central and local level for the rights of children, etc, are some of the factors that prevent children to live their childhood and enjoy the implementation of their rights.
This day is also commemorated ahead of the parliamentary elections and acts as an appeal for all political parties and their candidates for parliament to focus on the children issues and to draft concrete programs for the implementation of their rights.
In this framework, several recommendations that lead to the improvement of the situation of children are necessary to be pointed out.
These recommendations enable June 1 to be a day when all children can celebrate, in spite of their social and economic circumstances.
It’s crucial to give priority to the issues of children in the financial budgets through dialogue with the public and the children, especially in decision making that affects children directly.
The strengthening and the functioning of monitoring mechanisms for the employment of children in industry, farming, construction, are adequate for Albanian children. Thus, the High Inspectorate of Labor must play an active role for the identification of children that are exploited at work.
The following recommendations are also important:
A Unit for the Protection of Children must be created in every municipality/commune, which must be functional and in conformity with the current legislation.
A system of complaints should be established in order to deal with cases that relate to children;
Clear and applicable standards should be established to manage cases of children in danger;
The law for the Orphan Status should be reviewed and the age of the departure of children from residential institutions must increase to 18 years (in conformity with the UNO Convention for Human Rights);
Policies should be drafted in order to promote models of alternative care and foster homes, along with institutional structures that implement these models;
School attendance of children must be monitored and cases of non attendance must be addressed in order to integrate children in schools;
Programs of positive parenting should be drafted and families in need should be offered more social welfare;
Concrete plans on the prevention and exploitation of children for work or the violation of their rights should be prepared.
*Coordinator of “United for Child Care and Protection” Coalition