JOURNAL ISSUE 4
2001/2002

table of contents | abstracts

Adolescent Children and Civil Society Project

Stephen Matula




The Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic, which is simultaneously the Slovak Section of Defense for Children International, was founded on May 12th, 1990 as one of the first NGOs in Slovakia; their objective is to contribute to protection of children's rights in all spheres of social life and to promote formation of ideas, concepts and material condition of health, social, educational and psychological care for children. It mostly associates professionals from all areas of child care (health professionals, psychologists, lawyers, artists) and other activists from the ranks of the public. It has 40 branches all over the Slovak Republic. The chairman of the Children's Fund (DF) of the Slovak Republic (SR) is the only representative of NGOs in the Government Council of SR for the prevention of criminality and other antisocial activities. The number of existing registered NGOs in Slovakia is about 10,000 but only approximately 20 percent of them are active. About 1,000 paid workers and 68,000 volunteers work in these NGOs. About 40 percent of NGOs have their seats in Bratislava; the other 60 percent are relatively evenly fragmented in other regions of Slovakia. The basic problem of the unsuccessful activity of many NGOs is due to the low managerial skills of their representatives.
Every year, many NGOs are dissolved due to inability or unwillingness to keep accounting agenda. The work of NGOs has a low social prestige. The number of NGOs that focus on working with children and youth that actually do function is about 250. The majority of them take care of children without age limitation. The second biggest group of NGOs is those that focus on adolescents. About 25 percent of these organizations work with children under 15 years of age. The evaluation of the activity of NGOs that focus on children and youth, by experts alone, is ambiguous with respect to the issue of problems. It is concentrated in two crystallized attitudes:

  1. They (NGOs) are abundant, but are unsatisfactory in quality.
  2. Their number is small, but they work well. The evaluation of NGOs from the part of the young generation alone is pregnantly vague. More than one-third of young people were not able to evaluate their activity. The visibility of their activity in society is small and it would be desirable to take certain measures for better propagation of their activity and to allow for better publicity, mostly among young people. In the activity of NGOs, not only a dynamic quantitative growth occurs, but qualitative changes occur, too. Changes lie in a gradual self-recognition by particular organizations as being parts of certain systems with significant social meaning and with common interests. People from NGOs clearly define this sector as a flexible one, befitting to react to topical problems. The sector contains (besides state but also charitable organizations) mechanisms and development potential. A practical
    token for the process of finding one's identity emerged in the appearance of organizations that work in services of a nonprofit character. In the meantime, only the most experienced and active organizations undertake such an activity (for example, SAIA-SCTS, Slovak Humanity Council, Council of Slovak Youth). The qualitative changes we are speaking about are also visible in improvement of the ability of the representatives of NGOs to formulate good ideas in projects. This is undoubtedly also the result of managerial trainings for NGOs, which SAIA organized in the largest extent. The Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic undertook - for the needs of the members of its branches but also for other NGOs - three training/educational courses to support preventative protection in children and youth against social-pathological phenomena. The duration of each course is five weeks of training that the participants undergo within two years. A problem is that young people do not perceive work in an NGO as a perspective one for their professionalization, but rather only as a current form of job. Many people who achieved success in NGOs then leave for entrepreneurship. More surveys show that NGOs in Slovakia consider the basic problems of their activities to be the following:
    1. legislative framework for NGOs
    2. laws on taxes
    3. lack of information sharing and service
    4. malnourishment of managerial skills
    5. little information on resources and fundraising From a legal aspect there are two forms of a nonprofit organization:
      1. Foundations
      2. Civic associations

In both cases, founders are due to submit their status, personal data of statutory representatives and expected resources of earnings. The deepest problems are caused by legislation with respect to financing of NGOs. First, it is the area of taxes. The tax system, only in a very limited extent, motivates entrepreneurial subjects for sponsoring. It offers a present by a form of reducing the tax base (only up to two percent of the gross profit); however, this also means reducing the profit. We think that an optimal solution would be if entrepreneurial subjects were enabled to offer part of their taxes (about five percent) directly to voluntary organizations. Moreover, nonprofit organizations are taxed in the same way as entrepreneurial subjects. The law is that they have to pay tax from all activities that might bring profit. NGOs are also subjected to "value added tax" (VAT - 25 percent, i.e., six percent) which they must pay every time they make a purchase, or when they import/purchase material presents from abroad. Another severe problem for NGOs is the system of health, social and pensionary insurance. Equal to any other employer, NGOs must pay, for every employee, insurance in the amount of 12 percent of his or her gross income. Individual NGOs obtain finances for their activities from various domestic funds, which may or not be endowed by the state, or they were successful in procuring financial means abroad. A smaller number of NGOs obtain finances directly from foreign funds. Finances are always provided on the basis of elaborated grants and projects.

 

THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD & NATIONAL LEGISLATION

The Czech and the Slovak Federative Republic ratified the Convention on Children's Rights as one of the first statutes of Central and Eastern Europe (the President of the Republic signed it on September 30th, 1990 and it took effect for CSFR on February 6th, 1991). The ratification document was placed on deposit by the General Secretary of the UNO on January 7th, 1991. In the Slovak law order, basic children's rights are codified separately. The basis for a legal condition is set forth by the Constitution. The Constitution of the SR formulates the protective children's and youth's status, traditionally in the area of economic, social and cultural rights. Under Article 41 of the Constitution, special protection for children and youth is guaranteed. This constitutional principle is made concrete by legal provisions of various law areas, mostly civic and family law, work law, administrative law, social security law, health insurance and punitive law. The regulations of the above-mentioned law areas respect specific status of children and youth and provide them with a special protection. Full age is, by the law order of the Slovak Republic, governed by Civic Code (Law No. 40/1964 Zb.) in reading of later provisions.

Under § 8 of the Civic Code, full age is acquired by reaching 18 years of age or being married in the case of being under 18 years of age. Until being full-aged, the citizen has a status of being under-aged and is subjected to special protection of the law. The under-aged person is competent only for such legal acts that pertain to his/her intellect and will, and maturity that corresponds to his/her age. The onset of compulsory school attendance starts at the beginning of a school year following the day when the child reaches his/her sixth year of age and its duration is nine years. The commencement of work-legal competence starts on the day when the citizen reaches 15 years of age. The Work Code governs special work conditions for young workers. They cannot be involved in underground works, in mineral mining or in constructing tunnels and adits. Under-aged persons cannot be involved in works that are - with respect to their anatomic, physiological and mental specifications - inadequate, dangerous or detrimental to their health.

The Slovak law order acknowledges equal rights for children born out of marriage or delivered extramaritally and it does not allow for any discrimination of children. The demand set forth in Article 12 in the Convention of Children's Rights is also mirrored in the reading of some new provisions. For example, under the Law on Freedom of Religious Faith and on Church Status and Status of other Religious Communities (No. 308/1991), children's legal representatives decide on matters of their religious education until the child is 15 years of age. The child older than 15 years of age decides on this issue alone. In the same way, the new Law on Name and Surname (No. 300/1993) in relation to changing a child's name and surname sets forth that these changes require the consent of an under-aged person who is older than 15 years of age. The same rule also applies when a change of an adopted child's name occurs. The basic laws that pertain to the legal status of children and youth were already adopted during the former CSFR, and on the basis of Article 152 of the SR's Constitution, these laws remained valid in the newly begotten Slovak Republic. With respect to the fact that the majority of them had been adopted before 1989, they do not match with the new political, economic and social conditions in our republic. Therefore, essential changes are going on and are expected to take place in the law order of the Slovak Republic.

However, we must also say that, in previous decades too, care for children had been on a decent level. The law provisions that had been the basis for this care took specific children's interests and needs into consideration. We must say that rights that were franchised to citizens, including children, had been also realized in the former socialist social system, but only within the limits that this system allowed for. The whole area of education, the health system and social care had been secured by the government by means of its bodies and institutions. A strong paternalistic approach of the state had been manifested not only with respect to children but also with respect to adults. It is apparent that new social stratification of the society will require a differentiated and direct approach toward children, though limited by the economic situation of the state. On the other hand, reconstruction of the law order creates wide room for intensification of children's rights acknowledged by the Convention. Speaking about the preparation of special legislation provisions in the area of child and youth protection, the most important can be the two following provisions:

  1. Law on Youth. This bill is prepared by a special work group attached to the Ministry of Education of the SR with more youth organizations represented, including the representative of the Children's Fund of the SR. The adoption of this bill isn't expected until the end of 1997.
  2. Law on Protection of Children and Youth Against Socially Pathological Influences of Mass Media The bill was formed on the basis of the Children's Fund of the SR initiative and it was approved by the Government Council of the SR for Prevention of Criminality and Other Antisocial Activity. Presently, under the coordination of the State Secretary and Ministry of Culture of the SR, its paragraphed text is in preparation. The pertaining bill shall cover:
    1. programs and press communicators that are being labeled as not permissible for youth, that is, for the age category of under 18 years;
    2. music and lyrics (text) conveyors available to this age category in public lending facilities;
    3. programs broadcasted until 11:00 p.m. and after 6:00 a.m. The communicators that endanger the moral and emotional development of children and youth are considered by this law to be all those communicators that ethically disorient and destruct children's value hierarchies and which level down young peoples' emotional life. Three significant analyses were realized recently; they map the situation of children and youth in Slovakia:

I. Situational Analysis: Children - Slovakia's Tomorrow
In 1995, the Slovak Committee for UNICEF published a report of 121 pages. This work of a collective team of authors was coordinated by the Chairman's Secretary of the Children's Fund of the SR, Mrs. Mariana Arnoldov‡. At the end of the analysis are statements that the outcome situation for Slovakia in the issue of care for children is, in many respects, better than in other countries. For example, the system of preschool education had functioned very well; Slovakia had had an excellent standard in vaccination and a low disease rate in infectious diseases thereof. The eminent objective of present days is to prevent new economic relationships in the society and the phenomena that accompany them that have unfavorable influence on the status and condition of children's life in Slovakia. We progressed insufficiently in efforts for integration of health-disabled children to the mainstream environment, and there are barriers ahead of us that are hard to manage: invisible obstacles in people's minds which (because of ignorance) inhibit more explicit advancement. The cultivation of society and its future morale profile is based on the education of children and youth. Here lies a key to healing the entire social climate. Generally confessed conviction that adequate influence on youth is the most significant prevention against serious antisocial phenomena must be consistently materialized. It is necessary to elaborate a complex program of care for children and youth, and by legislation regulations, to create room for obtaining nongovernment resources for culture, sports and education.

II. Situational Study of Conditions and of Children's and Youth's Perspectives in Slovakia
In 1995, FOCUS, the Center for Social and Marketing Analysis, elaborated on and published a 62-page report after receiving an order from the International Youth Foundation. One of the respondents, who was interviewed during the preparation of the analysis, was also the Chairman of the Children's Fund of the SR. The report concludes with an emphasis that after the fall of communism, existing formal structures crashed down without having any other immediate alternative to catch hold of, and to build new and working structures requires time. The third sector - the sphere of nongovernment organizations - seems to be the most suitable and viable platform for fulfillment of such a goal. The problems concerning children and youth intensified recently - new problems appeared, problems more or less quite unknown. This process is faster than is the appearance of projects and organizations that focus on prevention and solution.

III. The Situation of Children and Youth in Slovakia: Problems and Perspectives.

The study was elaborated and published by the Fund for Support of Young Families in 1996; it has 40 pages. The study concludes with a statement that this survey revealed a persistent animosity shared by young people in the SR to be engaged and organized in something. The consequence of this may also lie in certain politicization of their activity presently, but is also due to the fact that young people in Slovakia have not yet sensed such a pressure on themselves that would compel them to mutually articulate and advocate their interests or rights. Maybe young people are unable to utilize their influence to pressure state organizations into actualizing their interests or rights (insufficient level of individualism, lack of civic skills, inability to solve group interests by self-assisting). Teaching young people with respect to "civic know-how) could also belong to those activities that should be more explicitly supported and developed in Slovakia. Every year, the Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic holds an interdisciplinary, international conference: CHILD AT RISK - always with a special focus that would map the most poignant areas of youth's and children's lives. This year, already the seventh conference, will be dedicated to the topic of violence in the family. The recommendations of the conference are published every year in a bulletin, which we operatively send to pertaining ministries.

 

PARTICIPATION

We can generally say that those institutions that would allow youth and children active participation in decision-making on matters that concern them are not many in number (with respect to the fact that the young generation should be represented by their own interests). Representatives of youth NGOs are delegated to various committees on local but also nationwide levels, mostly if the issue of problems dealt with by a pertaining body covers children's and youth's problems. The possibility to influence the decision-making of these institutions, since adults are significantly and predominantly represented in them, is minimal. Within the region of Slovakia, some attempts have been made at establishing, both at basic and secondary levels, students' parliaments that would declare, on a local level, children's and youth's interests. However, none of these attempts appeared to have had a long duration. Until now, too little responsibility has been ascribed to children and youth from the part of adults. Informing children about their rights is mostly done in two ways:

  1. The issue of children's rights and directing the young generation to know and respect them - if they become parents - is consistently elaborated in school curricula within several subjects. We think that the extent and direction of this teaching is sufficient.
  2. More NGOs (including the Children's Fund of the SR) have, in their scope, a need for creating and realizing methods that focus on nationwide education and propagation to keeping children's rights. We can say that, as a consequence of systematic mass media rehashing of these problems, the level of the young generation's and adults' informedness about children's rights is getting better.

VOLUNTARISM

There are several dozens of youth civic associations in Slovakia that work on the basis of the voluntaristic principle with the fact that the activity of central bodies is financed by the form of grants from state resources. However, a significant majority of these members perform these activities without entitlement for reimbursement. Theses associations have, on the one hand, a religious character (Catholic, Evangelic and Jewish associations) and they are, on the other hand, based on widespread activities (touristic, science/technical, educational, informational, cultural, artistic, sports, ecological, student activities, etc.). After the fall of communism, a revitalization of such worldwide organizations as the YMCA and the Scout movement took place in Slovakia. These organizations very significantly participate in securing and realizing youth's and children's leisure time activities, that is, in allowing for a wide scale of activities in the areas of culture, sports, international contacts, recreation and rest, informedness in the unemployment area and the area of negative phenomena; these facets affect youth and children today. They also participate in developing their interests, they help to create conditions for outgrowth and improvement of practical skills and they help to utilize leisure time wisely. They enhance the spiritual orientation of the young generation, too.

 

MINI REPORT: DISABLED CHILDREN

Care for disabled children and youth has a rich history and a long tradition in Slovakia. In the second half of the 18th century, the first attempts of organized education for disabled individuals had already started. From that time on, a system of special schools and educational facilities has been built here. Now, almost 30,000 disabled children are educated here according to their age and the type and degree of disability. Since the segregated system of educating disabled children (applied at the same time of communist dictatorship) is itself an oblique factor in the process of gradual integration in society, it is the integration of the disabled in regular school systems that became the subject of the present reform of the Slovak school system. During the last five years, basic legislation provisions took effect on the basis of which the education of intact children occurs simultaneously with that of children who require certain special pedagogic or technical service. Integration for children with a variety of disabilities (body, sensory or mental disabilities; children with disordered communication ability, children with combined disorders) takes place in a regular type of class or in a special class. It is expected that full integration will be carried out within the next ten or fifteen years. Nowadays, integration is hard to practice due to its pedagogic and mainly material demands, which are furthermore complicated by present budget limitation in school systems due to the state budget. In recent years, significant changes too place in care for children that require a special educational approach and special care due to behavioral disorders, psychosocial-developmental disorders or educational family malfunction. The reform probably affected this area most severely and it is already legislatively embedded. The basic characteristic of the reform is:

  • the emphatic shift toward prevention and working with child and family in a phase of risk, with an objective to avoid formation of behavioral and psychosocial development disorders;
  • prevention is tightly linked with the building up of the early detection and screening system, and with the system of educational counseling;
  • building up of the superstructure - centers of educational and psychological prevention that secure employment of specific care for children with psychosocial development disorders. The main goal of this care is to evade placement of children in alternative forms of education.

The reform also seriously covers, within its contents, the system of alternative education. It explicitly moves in the direction of family forms of alternative care and toward the specification of re-educational programs for children placed in facilities due to serious behavior disorders or punitive activity. The organization of education in special schools is based on that of regular, basic schools but with a certain variance. A consistent individual approach toward disabled children in the educational process allows for a reduced number of pupils in the class. It is dependent on a kind and degree of disability and the number of students in the class is usually between six and fifteen pupils. The last representative survey, which was realized in this area, selected 13 risk groups of children and youth:

  1. Romanian children and youth (about five percent of the population)
  2. Children from socially weak families
  3. Children from orphan's homes (almost 10,000 children)
  4. Mentally handicapped children
  5. Apprentice youth
  6. Children from incomplete families (almost ten percent of dependent children live in incomplete families)
  7. Children from special schools
  8. Suburban children
  9. Young people without any qualifications
  10. Rural children (more than half of the children in the SR)
  11. Urban children
  12. Young people after completion of school attendance
  13. Young unemployed people

MINI REPORT: CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW

In the area of children's conflict with the law, youth that do not find in their microclimate adequate patterns of behavior and emotional saturation are more endangered. As consequences of this absence, youth seek out patterns for their behavior elsewhere - in peer groups or in inadequate offers of mass media. Emotional deprivation, or insufficiency of emotional saturation in the family - where there is a high risk that youth would incline to asocial juvenile groups, where these young people find room for their self-actualization - is rather an impulse for escape and further frustration. These youth are mostly endangered by negative phenomena occurring in society in the form of antisocial and punitive activity. Their influences produce mental and physical damages, and later, diversion from socially acceptable life careers without psycho- and social-pathological characteristics. Among the negative phenomena that influence the status of these groups of the population belong, as a concomitant phenomena of transforming society and liberating free traveling, mostly the high unemployment rate, intense social polarization of society, commercialization of mass media, infiltration of international crime to the territory of the SR (whose victims are also persons of these age categories) and intense drug threat.
Other phenomena that reduce possibilities of protecting these groups involve the increasing migration of perpetrators of punitive activity and increasing systematization of crime, the consequence of which is increasing latency not only of the total punitive activity but also of punitive activity perpetrated by adults on children and youth. A proof for this assertion is the case of the Belgian pedophile who had been impossible for our police to find and who had permanent contacts in Slovakia.

A negative influence on children, juvenile persons and near-juveniles is also taking place in interhuman relationships - not only in families but among citizens, too - where we can see a gradual closure of families in their inner world and also diversion from traditional Slovak kind-heartedness, welcoming and willingness to help. These groups especially are not prepared for the implications of a Western style of life. A violent transformation in the thinking of contemporary young persons brings changes in his/her value orientation, which is most likely exhibited in a desire for an above-standard way of life and noncritical perception of one's own abilities and possibilities in the context of society.

For children from malfunctioning family environments (an environment that endangers the child's mental and physical development), there is, within the SR, a system of facilities of alternative education set up which consists of orphan's homes, diagnostic centers, re-educational homes and homes for mothers. In 1996, 83 such facilities operated within the SR and the establishment of three other facilities is planned until the end of 1997. Youth become victims of punitive activity that adults perpetrate in many cases. There are many instances of sexual abuse due to dependence (boarding houses, families); rapes; trafficking with young girls when they are (under illusion of lucrative employment) taken abroad, where they are restricted in personal freedom and are forced to serve as prostitutes, etc. In many cases, bullying of committed persons takes place with permanent consequences. Adult perpetrators often abuse the gullibility of under-aged children to gain unrighteous access to someone else's apartment, which results in subsequent theft.

Youth also become victims of adult perpetrators by other unlawful acts, acts that do not immediately force them to perpetrate punitive or other antisocial activity, but acts that create conditions for basic preconditions of other activity. Among such punitive acts belong the violation of morality, negligence of the child's compulsory sustenance, serving alcohol to youth, etc. From 1990 through the first half of 1996, attacks by perpetrators of punitive acts affected 427 children aged zero to six years, 4,767 children aged six to 15 years and 3,236 juvenile children. In spite of the above-mentioned cases, where children or youth were directly endangered by a perpetrator of a punitive act, a significant number of so-called "endangering delicts" was registered, where, necessarily, nothing might have happened but where physical or mental threat could indeed happen to children or youth. In a five-year follow-up including the first half of 1996, 21,463 punitive acts of neglecting compulsory sustenance, 477 cases of endangering moral education, 128 cases of toxicomania dissemination and 28 cases of serving alcoholic beverages to youth were documented. From the aspect of type composition of punitive activity by which youth were most endangered, there were: 57 murders registered where the victim was under 18 years of age, 13 murders of a child by a mother, 1,255 cases in which these persons became victims of robbery, 2577 times when harm was done to a victim, 844 times that they became the victims of blackmail and 139 cases when these persons were bullied. From other serious cases we can mention 15 instances of abandoning the child, 283 instances of restricting one's personal freedom, 534 rapes, 413 cases of sexual abuse due to dependency and 2177 cases where other instances of sexual abuse took place. In recent years, 12 girls under the age of 18 whom perpetrators had trafficked for prostitution were registered.
The participation of youth in perpetrating punitive activity is very hard to estimate. But if we focus on available statistical indicators, we can say that the participation of youth in a clarified punitive activity is, in many years, above 20 percent. The most severe part of youth is perpetrating property-related punitive activity. Here, the form, place and subject of perpetration are significantly different and they depend on the age and the mental and physical maturity of the individual. In under-aged persons, mostly small thefts at school prevail (attractive or inaccessible objects); there are also thefts of small financial amounts (tea-break food, etc.), then thefts in shops, pocket picking, stealing bicycles, etc. From a long-term aspect it is possible to say that there is a growth of youth's participation in committing mainly violent criminality, especially robbery in nationwide (but also in Bratislava's) context. Youth's participation in committing punitive activity, from the aspect of its structure, is principally not changed, however, there is a growth of its involvement in punitive, drug-related activity. Increasing brutality and intensity of violence among young people is also registered. Special and highly latent punitive activities, which much too oftenend in tragic consequences, are various forms of violence among children, juvenile persons and young adults in collectives.

By social case history of juvenile perpetrators' families, which the Justice Ministry of the SR provided, it was found that 59 percent of perpetrators come from a full family, 31 percent come from families where only the mother takes care of the juvenile person, 4.5 come from families where only the father takes care of the personand 4.5 percent where the grandparents take care of the juvenile person. The average length of the sentence imposed upon youth 11.7 months and the average length in a correctional institution for youth is 7.1 months. This means that discharge during probation is used to quite a big extent. Problems with resocialization appeared mostly in the high rate of recidivism when, until one year from prison-sentence discharge, 47.9 percent of juvenile persons repeatedly committed punitive acts. The severity of resocialization also lies in the fact that after these young people are discharged from their prison sentences, only about five percent of them are employed and almost 90 percent do not work after being discharged from prison sentences and are on social benefit. In the future, we can expect a further increase in the influence of crime-genic factors on the personalities of young individuals.

These factors would mostly include dissemination of drug addictions related to gradual expansion of the drug-consumers' networks. In relation to hard commercialization of the society, there will be further continuation of undesirable transformation of value systems of adults and subsequently young generations, too. There is only one specialized prison for juvenile persons in Slovakia. The majority of juvenile persons who got in conflict with the law are placed in re-educational institutions for youth. These institutions are in competence of school resort. In the novelization of punitive law, proposals of so-called "extra-court" solutions take place and they are comparable with measures in other European countries.

The Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic is engaged in supporting a gradual juvenile justice system. Besides, we also organize training and education of youth within so-called "peer programs." This way of prevention is, however, only at its beginning in our country.

 

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN (UP TO 18 YEARS)


Long-term statistics show that there is a considerable rate in the occurrence of sexual abuse and sexual abuse due to dependence (boarding houses, in families); rapes; trafficking with young girls when they are, under illusion of lucrative employment, taken abroad, where they are restricted in personal freedom and forced to serve as prostitutes; etc. In many cases, bullying of a committed person takes place also, with permanent consequences. Adult perpetrators often abuse the gullibility of under-aged children to gain unrighteous intrusion into someone else's apartment, which results in subsequent theft. In relation with gradual integration of the Slovak Republic into European structures, but with persisting and deepening differentations in economic spheres (mostly in the area of inhabitants' purchase power), we expect an increase in the growth of the exploitation of young girls and boys in taking pictures of them for pornographic magazines, making movies and prostitution. We expect, in the future, that young girls will be trafficked abroad by means of travel agencies and fictive companies that mediate lucrative employment abroad. Unregulated prostitution in domestic environments indicates a possible increase of sexual diseases in Slovakia and also an increase of punitive acts in pandering and thefts done in sexual intercourse, etc.

It seems that the legislation and mainly practice of other engaged institutions do not allow for complex approaches toward solving the problem of sexual abuse of children; many cases remain unrevealed. This issue is still aside the interest of NGOs in Slovakia mostly due to intricacy in solution. The last work discussion at the premises of the Slovak National Parliament took place on May 7th, 1997. The chairman of the Children's Fund of the SR participated and postulated one solution to increase the age limit of sexual abuse from 15 to 16 years of age.

 

DRUG/SUBSTANCE ABUSE AMONG ADOLESCENTS

Since 1990, mainly after the borders were opened and after the liberalization of traveling, youth have become a center of drug-traffickers' interest - traffickers are mostly citizens of former Yugoslavia. These people, on the one hand, make use of young people's probity and they recruit them as couriers for drug smuggling within Europe with assurance for abundant profit, and on the other hand, youth become the focus of interest for drug distributors who intend that they begin to abuse drugs and subsequently a network of consumers and customers will be created. Sale and inchoative free distribution of drugs, that is, products containing a drug (cigarettes, candies) takes place in front of school facilities, boarding houses, in parks, in night and disco clubs and in many youth clubs. Alcohol addiction is to date the most disseminated addiction and, unfortunately, socially the most acceptable form of dependence among youth. In a family, a child comes in contact with alcohol in a completely natural way, which mostly takes place during family celebrations, feasts, etc.

There is also a development of dependency on hard-core drugs. Present estimations for drug-addicted persons speak of numbers between 10,000 and 30,000, of whom the majority is youth aged up to 18 years or close to juvenile age. In both cases, the onset of antisocial activity mostly penetrates to the family environment where the youth start to take small amounts of cash from the home without letting parents know about it, or with story excuses; later they start to sell things from the household and then, so that their addiction is not observed, their activities to obtain financial means take place outside of the household. These activities are roughly exhibited and will be more apparently exhibited in two basic streams. One of them has a character of clearly property-related punitive acts, that is, thefts, burglaries, frauds, loans of money without intention to return it, etc.

The second stream is a mediated property-related punitive activity that is preceded by violent criminality, mostly robbery, blackmailing, hijacking or feigned hijacking with a goal to obtain ransom, etc. Drug addiction mostly endangers persons between 15- and 17-years-old, but also children 11- to 14-years old. This is confirmed by the structure of persons treated for drug addiction where there is absolute prevalence of young people 15- to 19-years-old. About six percent of the population has had at least one experience with drugs. The Committee of Ministries for Drug Addictions and Drug Control in the SR, which was formed by the government, stated that in Slovakia there is a percentage growth of drug addicts who are mostly dependent on heroin. In 1992, they represented only 2.1 percent of all drug-addicted persons; in 1994 it was already 82.5 percent.

The government adopted a National Anti-Drug Program and the law on the State Anti-Drug Fund is in preparation; certain financial resources are also appropriated within the existing State Health Fund. However, these activities and financial means are insignificant. There is an estimation that only three percent of NGOs pay attention to the issues of drug addiction, which is too insufficient. The legislation does not allow in this area a more radical procedure against drug pushers and dealers. The last work discussion at the premises of the National Slovak Parliament of the Slovak Republic took place on May 7th, 1997, and the chairman of the Children's Fund of the SR participated and offered a proposal to significantly tighten sentences for hard-core drug dealers.

ADDENDUM

To conclude, we think it is important to briefly draw attention to several other negative phenomena, which can be appended to a mosaic of social pathology in Slovakia, as well as a complex solution for prevention as it was elaborated and introduced in practice by the Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic.

a.) Child and Youth Suicides
The negative influences of micro- and macro-environments (mostly bad social situations in families), the influence of alcohol and other drugs, unpreparedness of young persons to solve crisis situations, crisis of one's identity and general neuro-instability are manifested in registered cases of accomplished suicides and accomplished suicidal attempts between 1990 and 1995 within the SR. At this time, 15 suicides of boys 14 years of age and under were registered as well as seven suicides of girls the same age. Six suicides were registered in 1995, which gives the highest number since 1990. In the given period, 83 boys and 22 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 committed suicide. In this same age category, the second highest suicide rate was achieved last year. In the same period, 38 suicide attempts of boys up to 14 years of age were registered as were 89 attempts by girls of the same age. In the age category of 15- to 19-year-olds, 409 suicides were registered for boys and 697 suicides were registered for girls. From the above-mentioned data obtained from the health statistics we can indicate several facts. Boys up to 14 years of age accomplish suicides 2.14 times more than their female counterparts. In the elder age category (15 to 19 years of age), this difference that disfavors boys is even higher and one's accomplished suicide attempt by a girl is equivalent to 3.77 accomplished suicides by boys.

However, in suicide attempts the situation appears to be reverted. In youth up to 14 years of age, girls attempt to do this 2.34 more often, and 1.7 times more often for those aged 15 to 19. From this it is clear that girls of both age categories more often try demonstrative forms of suicide attempts with an effort to draw attention to the existing problem. This is also confirmed, in a long-term measure, by the selection of means or methods in realizing the suicidal attempt. We can also note that boys, more inaptly than girls, use them for unresolvable situations and that is why they more often choose a radical way to solve the problem.

b.) Malign Cults and Sects
A severe, dangerous and to date insufficiently acknowledged danger for the young generation is the influence of malign sects and cults as well as the influence of other extremist movements. Among the sects whose activities were registered in Slovakia belong, for example, God's Children (in recruiting and acquiring means for the sect they also offer physical love), Witnesses of Jehovah (they do no celebrate birthdays, Christmas or Easter; they cannot take a weapon in their hands, go to the polls or express membership to any flag or country; they cannot even accept a blood transfusion if their lives or their children's lives are in danger), Hare Krishna (they require reciting a 16-word mantra 1,728 times per day; this gives a number of 27, 648 repeated words and a sect's member needs about five hours per day torecite them, it is apparent that he/she does not have time nor mental power for independent thinking) and the Moon Sect (the sect even dares to decide whom you should love; they select a suitable life partner based on a photograph and for the first three years any intimate cohabitation of such a couple is prohibited). There is a large number of sects and cults in the world and their penetration to our territory is only a question of time. By expanding their membership bases all over the world, they collect immense amounts of financial means (many members commit all or part of their property to the sect).

c.) Negative Influences of Mass Media
We think that a big part in the influence of negative phenomena on young people also represents unpremeditated mass media policy. A lot of violence is introduced daily on television channels, with frequent use of vulgarism, erotic shots and hard-core sex. This does not produce favorable preconditions for children's personality formation. However, not only violence and sex on TV screens negatively form young person's value systems. The authors of advertisements are very well skilled in psychology of children and through that they reach the financial sources of parents. Children are literally manipulated. They desire to have various toys or beverages that offer possibilities of winning high financial amounts. Since many of the parents cannot buy their children all that these advertisements offer, this is manifested in the very type of delinquency composition of children up to 15 years of age and also in juvenile perpetrators. Thus, conveyed advertisement campaigns result in changing children's value orientation, which then results in bias toward the consumer way of life and its only divinity: money. Mental manipulation of children and youth can be documented on data that speaks about the subject of interest.

d.) Information on the Proposal of the Children's Fund of the SR: "Complex System of Prevention for Social Pathology of Children and Youth"
If we analyze developmental trends in the occurrence of delinquency, criminality and drug addiction during the last decade in Slovakia, it is already clear that after times of a relatively stabilized situation occurred a turn with almost a yearly dramatic increase in the number of children and youth who violated the law by their behavior. It is doubtless that one of the causes of this enormous increase is the fact that at times of precipitated social-political changes, there was not available in Slovakia a practically realizable system for nationwide prevention that could have worked against the trend in delinquency and the increase in criminality.
This was the reason why the Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic postulated, as one of the goals of its activity, a co-participation in creating a nationwide system for prevention against socially pathological phenomena from its start in May 1990. Our activities in the area of delinquency and criminality prevention were intensified, mostly since 1992, when the statutory representative of the Children's Fund of the SR became the only representative of NGOs in the Council for Criminality Prevention of the government of the Slovak Republic. In 1993, the Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic (in cooperation with the Research Institute for Child Psychology and Pathopsychology in Bratislava) elaborated and submitted in the above-mentioned Council of the Government a proposal that became an outcome in legislative delimitation of centers for educational and psychological prevention that can be constituted under ¤ 11 of the Law of NR SR no. 279/1993 on school facilities.

It is possible to realize, in these centers, multidisciplinary and multi-institutional prevention. However, only 15 of them are presently in practice; growth and development of other centers is impeded mostly by lack of state financial resources. Three years ago, the representative of the Children's Fund of the SR, in the Government Council of the SR for Struggle with Antisocial Activity, was appointed to manage the expert committee for the area of socially pathological phenomena in children and youth. Their task will be multidisciplinary development and assessment of resort and multiresort programs for prevention against individual socially pathological phenomena.

This goes hand in hand with their mutual coordination that resulted in the elaboration of the Proposal of Complex Model for Nationwide Prevention Against Antisocial Phenomena in Children and Youth. Practical experience of all bodies and institutions that presently deal with care for families, children and youth endangered by social pathology (health care professionals, educational workers at schools and school facilities, socialworkers, workers in pedagogic-psychological counseling centers, policemen, prosecutors, judges and so forth) confirm that their preventative activity is not sufficiently coordinated; there is a lack of effective information channels and chains, work of individual subjects for prevention does not correspond with one another, and there is a dominance of administration above concrete practical care. We consider the respective system of prevention of social pathology to be complex, coordinated and continual application of psychological, psychotherapeutic, educational and resocialization methods.

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