The Discrimination against Children in Institutional Care: Covert, Pretended or Real and Perceivable
A team of consultants of GERT supported by UNICEF Bulgaria conducted in the period July-August 2012, a start-up study within the project „JUST/2011/PROG/AG/1883 „Decent Work and Better Life without Discrimination” with the financial support of the European Commission, through the Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity 2007-2013 PROGRESS of the European Community, implemented by the MLSP.
The objective of the study was to identify and study the attitudes and perceptions of children placed in Specialised Institutions to discrimination: how do children understand the notions of discrimination and fair and equal treatment; do children feel discriminated against and who and when did discriminate them; what are the grounds of discrimination they are facing according to their own perceptions: race, ethnic origin, disability, age, religion or beliefs and sexual orientation, where the intersecting point is gender.
The main focus of the field survey were the children in institutional care aged 8-18 placed in Specialised Institutions: Institutions for Children Deprived of Parental Care (ICDPC) called also „Homes”, Institutions (Homes) for children with mental disabilities (ICMD), Socio-pedagogical boarding schools (SPBS) and Re-educational boarding schools (RBS); the children outside Specialised Institutions having direct contact with children from institutions; children having no contact with children from institutions but aware of the issue and with opinion thereof, as well as to identify discriminatory attitudes on the above mentioned grounds where the intersecting point is gender of adults employed in the sphere of institutional care and adults who, in their professional careers have contacts with children living in institutions, e.g., teachers, social workers, etc.
The specificity of the topic and of the target group has implied the use of a qualitative method of research targetting children living in institutions representative as typology of the residential care institutions existing in Bulgaria.
All grounds of discrimination as laid down in the national Law on Protection against Discrimination, relevant to the target group were examined in details, namely: ethnic origin, religion or faith, disability, age, social origin, sexual orientation with gender being the intersecting point and focus. During the preliminary research and analysis of the relevant legislation, a hypothesis was formulated on the presence of a category and ground of discrimination, which is the „social status” defined as „a child growing up and raised in institution, outside of family environment. This category is unanimously recognised by all respondents: children in institutions, social workers and a variety of experts connected to the institutions, as a separate, stand-alone and main ground of discrimination by the society as a whole against children living in institutions, which category is called by all of them „a child from an institution”.
On the basis of the results from the study a Report was drawn up containing specific recommendations on the development of policies and the statutory regulations on anti- discrimination in the Institutions for children in institutional care, recommendations on the institutional care system as a whole, the educational system, in order to raise the awareness and sensitivity of the society in order to prevent such phenomena.
An essential conclusion of the study is that children living in institutions in most cases are unaware of the discrimination they suffer as they do not have the relevant emotional, moral or social maturity and knowledge to recognise it
The full text of the Report can be downloaded by clicking on the icon below.