Birth Registration: Citizenship can be acquired either by birth in the country or from one’s parents. The government registered all births promptly.
Child Abuse: NGOs noted that, despite a multi-year effort to combat violence against children, many problems continued. In 2015 according to the latest information from the Department of Statistics, 19,043 children lived in 9,757 “at-risk” families, including those experiencing substance abuse, unemployment, and other socioeconomic problems. Media frequently reported instances of cruelty to children, including sexual abuse, intentional starvation, and beating. The Department of Statistics registered 1,669 reports of violence against children in 2015. The children’s rights ombudsman reported receiving 154 complaints in the first eight months of the year.
The ombudsman for children’s rights reported that government efforts to combat child abuse and aid abused children were ineffective. In the first eight months of the year, Child Line (a hotline for children and youth) received 421,697 telephone calls from children but, because of limited human and financial resources, it could respond only to 192 calls. Child Line also answered 883 letters from children, whose concerns ranged from relations with their parents and friends to family violence and sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse of children remained a problem despite prison sentences of up to 13 years for the crime. In the first eight months of the year, the Ministry of Interior recorded 33 cases of child rape and 98 cases involving other forms of child sexual abuse. The government operated a children’s support center to provide special care for children who suffered from violence, including sexual violence. On June 3, the minister of social security and labor opened a center in Vilnius to provide legal, psychological, and medical assistance to sexually abused children and their families.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriages for girls and boys is 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Individuals involving a child in pornographic events or using a child in the production of pornographic material are subject to imprisonment for up to five years. During the same period, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children’s Rights reported that it received one complaint and initiated one investigation of sexual exploitation of children. No information was available about the number of persons convicted of sexually exploiting children. According to the Ministry of Interior, officials opened five criminal cases involving child pornography during the first eight months of the year. The age of consent is 16.
Displaced Children: Street children were widely scattered among the country’s cities. Most were runaways or from dysfunctional families. According to the Missing Persons Families Support Center, 3,241 persons, including 2,048 children, were reported missing in 2015.
A number of free, government-sponsored programs assisted displaced children. Government bodies and numerous NGOs administered 60 agencies protecting children’s rights to aid vulnerable children.
Institutionalized Children: In 2015, 3,868 orphans and other children in need of care resided in the country’s 95 orphanages, including 17 operated by NGOs and 52 large-family foster homes. There were five boarding schools for children with disabilities. As of September 1, the children’s rights ombudsman received three complaints and started one investigation regarding children’s rights violations in these institutions. Under the law children under the age of three are sent to guardianship institutions only in exceptional cases when they need specialized health care, nursing, or when the family or municipality cannot provide a child with proper care. To speed up the adoption process, the law also limits a child’s stay in an orphanage to 12 months as opposed to the longstanding pattern of temporary care in orphanages lasting five years or longer, representing one of the main obstacles to children’s adoption by new families.
NGOs, child welfare experts, and psychologists contended that the country’s orphanages were detrimental to child development, leading to a wide range of social problems, such as delinquency, social exclusion, and vulnerability to trafficking and prostitution. In March 2015 prosecutors announced an investigation into allegations that the director of the Viesvile Orphanage sexually exploited boys in his care. These allegations followed a January announcement that prosecutors were investigating the Sveksna School--a residential institution for children with special needs--for hosting a prostitution ring in which 15- to 17-year-old residents prostituted younger female residents. The director was dismissed during the pretrial investigation, which continued at year’s end.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.