Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents. Children are immediately registered upon birth in the country.
Education: Public education is compulsory to the age of 16 and free through the 12th grade, but authorities did not effectively enforce attendance requirements.
Approximately 20,000 children drop out of school every year. This trend affected the ethnic minorities disproportionately: While 55 percent of the Turkish and 46.2 percent of the Romani population completed primary education, only 24 percent of Turkish and 7.8 percent of Roma completed secondary education.
Child Abuse: Violence against children was a problem. According to the State Agency for Child Protection, 2,155 children were victims of violence in 2010, of whom 77 percent were victims of violence in the home. Nationwide one in three children was a victim of physical violence, and one in eight of sexual violence. Nearly 19 percent of the cases involved emotional abuse. UNICEF reported that 23 percent of students between the ages of 10 and 14 were victims of cyber-bullying, while 13 percent of students admitted to cyber-bullying. According to the National Statistical Institute, 2,090 children were victims of serious crimes in 2010, a slight increase from 2,009 juvenile victims in 2009. Experts commented that the cruelty of the acts had increased, with the number of killings increasing from seven to 12.
The government funded an NGO-operated 24-hour free hotline for children to report abuse; during the first nine months of the year, the hotline received 13,106 verified complaints. Nearly 13 percent of the calls concerned family problems and violence. These calls prompted investigations that sometimes resulted in the removal of children from abusive homes and the prosecution of abusive parents. Hotline administrators referred 235 reports to child protection authorities for handling.
Child Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 16. Although no official statistics were available, NGOs reported that child marriage was common in Romani communities. According to the Romani NGO Amalipe, 20 percent of 16-year-old Roma and 50 percent of 18-year-old Roma were either married or cohabited, which resulted in school dropouts, early childbirths, poor parenting, and spreading poverty. The earliest reported age for cohabitation among the Roma was 12. The legal minimum age for consensual sex is 14.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The penal code provides for two to eight years’ imprisonment and a fine of 5,000-15,000 levs ($3,342-$10,026) for forcing children into prostitution, as well as three to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000-20,000 levs ($6,684-$13,369) for child sex trafficking. The law prohibits child pornography and provides for up to six years in prison and a fine of up to 8,000 levs ($5,347).
Institutionalized Children: As of June the prosecution service charged four persons with crimes and continued to investigate 238 deaths and other problems involving malnutrition, serious infections, sexual abuse, physical violence, and injury uncovered during its September 2010 inspections of specialized institutions for children. As of July, 5,328 children lived in 127 specialized institutions. In June a report by the European Roma Rights Center and the BHC stated that Romani children accounted for 63 percent of all institutionalized children, while Roma accounted for 10 percent of the total population. Most children in state institutions were not orphans; courts institutionalized children when they determined that their families were unable to provide them adequate care.
During the year the government began a deinstitutionalization program with the aim of integrating institutionalized children up to the age of three into the homes of their biological families or foster families or other family-type settings.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information see the Department of State’s report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport_4308.html.