One of the initial activities in the implementation of the Program of secondary prevention focused on identification and protection of children from risk factors in primary schools in the Hercegbosna County, was held on August 4 in Livno.
The presentation of the Program was held for the representatives of the County Ministry of Science, Education, Culture and Sports and representatives of the Ministry of Labor, Health, Social Welfare and Displaced Persons by Dijana Pejić, Executive Director of Genesis Project, a humanitarian organization that implements the project and a national expert for the program of secondary prevention, prof. dr. Elmedin Muratbegović, from the Faculty of Criminology, Criminology and Security Studies in Sarajevo, and the representative of the UNICEF BiH Child protection unit, Elvir Musić also addressed the present participants.
In addition to the representatives of the line ministries, the meeting was also attended by the directors of the social welfare centers Tomislavgrad and Livno, and representatives of the mental health centers of these municipalities, as very essential partners during the project implementation.
In her opening remarks, Director Pejić briefly explained that this is a program that UNICEF has been already successfully implementing in Tuzla and Sarajevo Canton, as well as in the entire Republic of Srpska, which aims to protect children from violence and neglect, as well as a timely prevention of the risk of socially unacceptable behaviors.
Given the outstanding results, which is confirmed by the fact that during 2019, more than 200,000 children benefited indirectly from this program, and more than 1,500 children were directly supported through relevant services, the humanitarian organization Genesis project, as a technical partner of UNICEF begins to implement the Project in primary schools in Hercegbosna County and Una-Sana Canton.
In Hercegbosna County, as Pejić stated, the project will be implemented in all 9 primary schools in the municipalities of Tomislavgrad, Livno, Kupres, Bosansko Grahovo, Glamoč and Drvar.
The project is extremely complex and involves the coordination of representatives of professional services of schools, the municipal center for social welfare and representatives of the competent center for mental health in the community, as well as other organizations for child protection at the municipal level. In this way, a referral mechanism for cooperation of local resources in order to support and protect children at risk is provided.
During the meeting the representatives of the county ministries and municipal centers for social welfare stated that Hercegbosna County faces, in some municipalities, a lack of staff needed to support children who are recognized as children at certain risk (low, medium or high). Some schools do not have a psychologist in the school’s professional service, and some do not even have a pedagogue. It will be challenging to create a referral mechanism to help a child at risk in these smaller municipalities in the County, as they stated, but it is certainly feasible.
Their position that, regardless of these problems, everything should be done in order for the Project to be implemented was supported by prof. Dr. Elmedin Muratbegović, citing the results that are already visible in the Sarajevo Canton. Among other things, said prof. Muratbegović, there was a decrease in the number of violent behavior among primary school children, which means not only the number of perpetrators, but also the number of victims.
UNICEF Child Protection Representative Elvir Musić welcomed the readiness of the County authorities to cooperate, adding that this project is a logical continuation of previous UNICEF efforts to protect children from all forms of violence and to, as early as possible, prevent violence and unwanted behavior.
The program of secondary prevention, in the schools of Hercegbosna County, is implemented by the humanitarian organization “Genesis Project”, as a technical partner of UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the project is implemented under the auspices of the Swedish government.