Protecting children from neglect and abuse – Serbian young people with disabilities show the way to make children safer


AN INNOVATIVE booklet created by children and young people with intellectual disabilities to help their peers understand neglect and abuse has been launched in a number of European languages.

It was produced as part of a ground-breaking project in Serbia, funded by the EU and run by the young people, working with J.K. Rowling’s children’s organisation, Lumos, and the Serbian Child Rights Centre (CRC).

The project empowered children and young people, aged from 13-27 in a “child participation” group to assess the effectiveness of systems in Serbia in protecting them against abuse.

Using specially adapted materials, they expressed their views about child abuse and neglect and made recommendations to the government in Belgrade for improvements. The children and young people also took part – as co-trainers – in a series of well-received training events for senior Serbian professionals in the field of child care and protection.

The “easy to read” booklet – Nobody is Allowed to Harm You – A book for children and young people to help them understand what abuse and neglect means looks at risks including physical and verbal violence, emotional harm and humiliation, peer isolation, electronic bullying and different forms of sexual violence and sexual abuse.

The booklet has already been translated from Serbian  into Englisch and Czech, as well as Braille, and there are plans for further translations into other European Union and international languages. The booklet will be disseminated as a child protection tool for schools, children’s groups and other agencies.

In Belgrade, in Serbia, on 26 January 2016, the group of children and young people – known as the “Club for Healthy Changes” – are taking part in an international conference to share the results of the overall project, entitled Empowering children/ young people with disabilities to improve responses to Child Abuse and Neglect.

In their report on the project, the children and young people say they “learned that our opinions matter, and that there are people who are willing to listen to them. We have learned that even though we are all different we have equal rights, we can support each other and that together we are stronger”!

At the January 26 event, results of ten training sessions aimed at improving the skills of professionals working to protect children from abuse and neglect, will be presented, emphasising the role of young people as a co-trainers. A guide to implementation of Serbia protocols on the protection of children and young people with disabilities from abuse and neglect will also be presented. Discussions aimed at improving a number of general and specific Serbian child protection protocols are continuing, between the young self-advocates and professionals and decision makers.