According to World Vision, 70 per cent of children aged between 8 and 18 in Albania have experienced some form of violence.
In a report based on statistics gathered over the last year the report also states that 46 percent of those abused do not report cases because they are indifferent, and 36 percent because they don’t believe they will get justice.
The report found that physical and psychological violence is present in all levels of society including their home, neighbourhoods and schools.
In 2018, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reported that whilst corporal punishment is illegal under all circumstances, there were “high levels of physical and psychological violence against children in educational settings and at home”.
The Albanian authorities were called upon to step up their activities aimed at eradicating violence against children, including by strengthening the capacities of child protection services and education professionals to identify violence and to adequately respond to it. They were also asked to raise awareness on a zero-tolerance attitude towards violence against children.
Instead of taking this advice on board, the government has actively ignored attempts by NGOs to draft laws that will increase protection for children.
Today, the Child Rights Center Albania (CRCA) denounced Parliament for failing to approve amendments to the Criminal Code for the protection of children from violence, bullying and internet use. Since 2016, the NGO has proposed 12 additions and improvements that it says will protect children, particularly when they are online and at risk of sexual exploitation and violence.
Corporal punishment in schools and educational institutions is illegal, as is using violence as a means of discipline. The CoE noted a prevailing attitude that violence against children as a way of disciplining them is acceptable.
Violence is one of the main factors that impede the development and well-being of children. Significant research shows that physical punishment is associated with increased child aggression, antisocial behaviour, lower intellectual achievement, poorer parent-child relationships, mental health problems, and diminished moral internalisation.
The problem is such in Albania that politicians, police, prosecutors and others in a position of power and authority sometimes protect child abusers, rapists and other offenders who have political connections.
A good example of this is the case of Socialist Party vote collector and Director of Kindergarten 1, Nashi Shehapi who is accused of beating a 3-year-old boy in her care. During the ongoing court proceedings that she claimed she would win, it came to light that the prosecutor Eriselda Bala’s (who repeatedly recommended dismissing the case) father is the head of the SP for Fier. It was also alleged by staff at the Kindergarten that Shehapi hired a “fixer” to pay the prosecution into recommending dismissal.