NEWS

NGOs want real measures for children

Children’s welfare in Greece will benefit if local legislation falls into line with the United Nations’ convention on the rights of children, said a report by a group of non-governmental organizations yesterday. «Though almost every country except America and Somalia has ratified the convention, in practical terms the obligations this entails are purely theoretical,» a group of NGOs concerned with children told a press conference in Athens yesterday. Greece ratified the convention in 1992, but, the NGOs claimed, has not promoted the necessary legal framework nor taken practical measures. «The Greek government must found a national center for children so it can form a true picture of problems facing children and suitable policies can be formulated for dealing with them,» says the report. The urgent needs of many Greek children emerge clearly from the report’s statistics. An estimated 80,000 adolescents aged 14-19 work, as do some 5,000 children under 14. Drug abuse is common among minors in cities, with 6 out of 10 children under 15 having experimented with drugs. Statistics on sexual abuse are still difficult to collect, as surviving societal taboos ensure this crime is usually concealed. About 3,000 minors are involved in some form of prostitution. The NGOs also recommend the establishment of a team of specially trained police officers to deal with juvenile offenders, the introduction of alternative methods of dispensing justice to minors, and the employment of social workers at children’s courts. NGOs and other organizations drafted the report in response to a request from the Greek branch of Amnesty International for data to supplement the Greek government’s report to the UN committee for children’s rights in Geneva. The groups included Arsis, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Marangopoulou Foundation, the Children’s Health Institute.