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Survey on Youth Experiences in Bosnia and Herzegovina Concerning Various Forms of Violence and Trauma in Childhood

In foundation, with the financial support of the Kinderpostzegels, Netherlands, conducted a survey on B&H youth experiences concerning various forms of violence and trauma endured in childhood.

The main goal of this survey was to asses a general situation and incidence of violence and abuse of children in B&H, as well as to define the frequency of its forms.  The study was conducted country-wide and covered sample of 975 respondents, senior high school students from 16 locations in B&H.

Findings of the survey indicate that violence, in most cases, is not publicly discussed and many forms of abuse in the general population are not recognized as violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially those taking place within family.

Survey results are indicating that by its frequency, the most present form of violence  is emotional abuse in 62%, then  physical abuse in 58%,  witness to violence in 43%, neglect in 27%  and sexual abuse in 23,4% of cases.

Those figures are implicating that many young people very often experience different and multiple forms of violence.  The respondents who stated that they suffered violence have been in most cases abused multiple times during a long-term period, which indicates the tendency of repetition and its chronicity, thus the individual forms of violence rarely appear isolated, but they are intertwined with other forms of violence.

Young people who experienced some types of violence and abuse also have high level of anxiety, pessimism and lower self-respect.

Findings of this and similar surveys indicate that children are commonly threatened by the closest family members, or the people that are close and familiar to children. This fact is especially related to sexual abuse.

Also, according to the findings, in some of the families usual communication is characterised by various forms of violence and those violent patterns are repeated, learned by the model and carried over into future partners’ relations.

Although, the role of the family should be protective in process of growth and development of the child, very often, privacy and autonomy of family hides dark secrets that are threatening basic needs and rights of the child.

Regardless of its forms, the violence has a decisive negative impact on the psychological development of the child, especially when it comes from important and close adults, therefore this study might help to initiate some activities that could assist parents and children to reduce violence and to break the transgenerational transfer of violence.

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