The second pandemic year, which at the same time we still have to deal with the consequences of devastating earthquakes, for all children in Croatia was another year of adjusting to the conditions of life in an emergency situation. The prolonged crisis further highlighted all the existing weaknesses in the protection of children’s rights, which existed before, and pointed to the need for a systematic and better solution to a number of issues concerning the lives of children.
This is the message from the annual Report on the work of the Ombudsperson for Children in 2021, which the Ombudsperson Helenca Pirnat Dragičević submitted to the Croatian Parliament on March 31, 2022.
In 2021, the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children recorded an increase in the number of reports of violations of children’s rights, which reached the number of 2004 new cases, and in addition to new reports, it also acted in 694 cases transferred from previous years.
The highest number of reports of violations of rights was in the field of education, as many as 478, followed by the exercise of the right to parental care, with 426 reports. Violence and neglect of children were reported in 269 cases, violations of health rights in 172, judicial rights in 141, rights to protect the safety of the child in 121 cases, 83 reports related to the child’s privacy, 77 violations of economic rights, 49 discrimination, 48 social rights, among other applications.
The report points to some very worrying trends that require urgent action to protect children. The number of children killed in traffic is on the rise – as many as 17 children have lost their lives and 1,254 have been injured in traffic accidents. The number of reports of violence and neglect of children in the family has increased. The number of children in institutions is also growing, but the good news is that in 2021, a slightly higher number of adoptions of children was recorded, so that 37 children got parents. With this report, the Ombudsperson also calls for systematic support for the protection of the mental health and well-being of children, and in this connection for better support for parents and families, educators and all those in charge of child care.