Located in north-eastern Europe, on the border of Russia and Ukraine, Belarus is home to nearly 9.5 million people.
Less than 20% of the population are under the age of 18, making it a country with one of the lowest birthrates in the world. Many of these children and young people need support so that they can grow up safely, and have a future to look forward to.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Belarus since 1995.
Violent methods of discipline against children are widely accepted across Belarus: 74% of parents have used some form of violent punishment against their child or children.
This violent behavior is seen in other areas of life too, with, for example, high rates of bullying in schools.
More work needs to be done to raise public awareness about the negative, long-lasting effects that violence can have on children and young people.
In Belarus, 4 in 5 children who live in state-led care homes have living parents. These children are unable to live with their parents for a variety of reasons. The most common are: financial difficulties, domestic violence, and substance abuse.
Despite recent improvements, social support for families at risk in Belarus is still insufficient. Family support services are limited, and families are often only identified when they are already deep in crisis.
Many young people in Belarus face a difficult start in life: 1 in 5 children and young people aged between 10 and 17 lack adequate care and protection.
Violence against older children is also prevalent, with more than half of the children in this age group having experienced either physical or psychological violence from their caregiver.
This neglect has a serious impact on their development, mental health, and education, and is likely to continue to affect them into their adulthood.