Child victim

In many domestic violence cases, children suffer from the abuser’s aggression directly or indirectly by witnessing violence between adults. Different legal regulations are to be applied since the protection of child rights requires a different and more specific approach.

A child victim of domestic violence has the same right to obtain state protection, hold the perpetrator responsible for his or her actions and to receive compensation similarly to an adult victim of domestic violence. However, a child must be represented (e.g., for signing documents and submitting applications) by his/her legal guardian. If the child’s legal guardian hesitates or refuses to submit necessary applications on the child’s behalf, such applications can be submitted by the Orphan’s court or a prosecutor.

Removal from the family

In a situation where children are endangered by their legal representatives – the parents or a guardian, and thus there is no one representing the child’s rights and interests against the abuser, the child may be separated from the family if it is impossible to eliminate the risk for the child while it stays in the family. When deciding on the removal of the child from the family, the police shall bring the child to a safe situation – a crisis centre, a medical institution, a foster family or other safe place. If the child’s parents or a guardian endangers the life, health and freedom of the child, then the police are obliged to report immediately to the custody court. The custody court is authorized to issue a decision on a termination of the rights of custody of a parent or a guardian, the suspension or revocation of the child-family care under the guardianship or in a foster family.

Assistance to abuse victims

A child victim of domestic violence shall be provided with emergency assistance free of charge, in order for the child to regain their physical and mental health and to reintegrate into society. Such medical treatment and reintegration shall take place in an environment favourable to the health, self-esteem and honour of the child, carefully guarding the child’s intimate secrets. General protection rules on the rights of a child victim shall be applied during any administrative, civil or criminal procedures. 

It is prohibited for a child victim to:

  • be left alone, except in cases when the child himself or herself so wishes and this choice is considered appropriate by a psychologist who has undergone special preparation for work with children who have suffered from violence
  • be left without psychological or other form of care
  • be confronted by the possible perpetrator of the violence (illegal act) while the child is not sufficiently prepared psychologically for such a confrontation
  • be subjected to the use of any compulsory measures in order to obtain information or for any other purpose

Child protection & Human rights

In cases where a child has become a victim of domestic violence, similar violations of human rights may occur as in the case of adult victims.

Where state authorities have failed to take appropriate protective measures specifically designed to protect a child, a violation of the right to private and family life may occur. For example, the removal of a child from a family or granting, without the necessary due diligence to the custody rights of the other parent. 

There may be a violation of the right to a fair trial in cases where a child is involved in court proceedings related to domestic violence and the authorities have failed to ensure fair trial guarantees specifically designed to protect child victims. 

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education