Violation of children's rights

What to do and where to turn to if children's rights are violated during the war – answers to basic questions

  • Права дитини

прав дитини

Що робити та куди звертатися, якщо в умовах війни права дитини порушують – відповіді на основні запитання

I have seen a child without adults. What should I do?

  • Make sure the child is really unaccompanied. Maybe the adults just stepped away. Ask people around you if they know the child.
  • Ask the child what his/her name is and where he/she is from. Try to find out the last time he/she saw mom/dad or another adult who was with him/her.
  • Take the child to a warm and safe place where there are other adults (station waiting room, police station, volunteer centre). However, do not take them far, in case relatives are found. Do not leave the child alone.
  • Call 102, report the situation to the nearest police station or contact your local authorities. Don't forget to share the information you have learned about the child. If the child has got lost abroad, you can call the hotline 116 000

Important! In emergencies like martial law, a child is not considered an orphan or abandoned, even if there are no adults around. The child’s status is determined by state bodies. 

A child has been left without an adult during martial law in ukraine. What should I do?

The child must be reported immediately to the National Police Department on 102 or to the Children's Affairs Service.

If you or the child is located outside Ukraine, you must immediately notify the Ukrainian consulate in your host country.

What are the signs of child trafficking?

  • The child's documents have been confiscated.
  • Mobile phones and other means of communication have been confiscated.
  • Emergency medical care, sleep, rest and meals have been refused.
  • There is restricted movement in the locality where the child is.
  • The child is being forced to live or work in locked rooms.
  • The child is forced to work or provide services, including sexual exploitation, through the use of physical violence, psychological pressure or manipulation.

I have witnessed child trafficking. What should I do?

  • Call the police on 102 or the 112 EU emergency number.
  • Contact non-governmental organizations that help victims of human trafficking in the country where you are now.
  • Contact the Ukrainian Embassy in the country where you are currently located.
  • Look for contacts on our ‘Useful tips’ page.

Important! The absence of identity documents does not prevent you from contacting local emergency services, non-governmental organizations or the Ukrainian Embassy in the country where you are currently staying.

A child has disappeared in the temporarily occupied territories. What should I do?

In case of a child's disappearance in the temporarily occupied territories, his or her parents or caregivers should contact:

  • the local (or neighbouring area’s) Children's Affairs Service;
  • National Social Service of Ukraine;
  • Ukrainian human rights organizations involved in the protection of children's rights.

Under cover of evacuation, occupiers deport Ukrainians to Russia. Among them, children are being prepared for adoption in the Russian Federation.

Forcible deportation is prohibited by the 1949 Geneva Convention, in particular by Articles 4, 49 and 147 thereof.

What are the signs that a child may have experienced sexual abuse?

Physical disorders

Oral symptoms

  • eczema, dermatitis, herpes on face, lips or in the mouth
  • refusal to eat (anorexia)
  • overeating (bulimia)

Anal symptoms

  • damage to the rectum
  • redness of the anus
  • varicose changes
  • rectal bleeding

Vaginal symptoms

  • hymen disorders and penetrating injuries of the genitals
  • vaginal enlargement, damage (wounds, scratches)
  • concomitant infections, sexually transmitted infections
  • vaginal bleeding

Other symptoms

  • bruises on different parts of the body
  • hematomas and bites on the breasts, buttocks, legs, lower abdomen, thighs
  • pregnancy
  • urethral inflammatory conditions

Changes in emotional state

  • feelings of guilt, shame
  • retreating into yourself
  • reserved demeanour, isolation, avoidance of contact with peers
  • phobias, fears or anxieties, particularly those with an unexpected or incomprehensible nature (fear of taking off underwear during a medical examination, fear of darkness or anxiety at night, fear of men)

Cognitive disorders

  • attention disorders
  • impaired concentration of memory, perception
  • a sharp deterioration in learning

Behavioural symptoms

  • aggressive and cruel behaviour, thefts
  • regressive behaviour of a child (i.e. returning to earlier behaviours that have already been overcome with age), especially among small children (e.g. finger sucking, urinary incontinence)
  • running away from home
  • addictive behaviour (drinking alcohol, consumption of other psychoactive substances)
  • «dirty body» syndrome (constantly in the bathroom, in the shower)
  • wearing several layers of clothing to make them harder to remove (many belts, several pairs of pants worn at the same time, etc.)

Self-destructive behaviour

  • self-mutilation
  • suicidal thoughts
  • suicide attempts


  • neuroses
  • character disorders
  • depression

Sexualization of behaviour

  • systematic obsessive masturbation (even in the presence of other children or adults)
  • early masturbation (prepubertal)
  • age-inappropriate sexual games, sexualized behaviour, initiating sexual acts with others, sexually manipulating peers or younger children
  • candid proposals or hints to children or adults about their willingness to satisfy sexual desires (for no special reason or for a certain fee)
  • knowledge of sex, genitals, etc., which is not typical for such an age
  • promiscuity (entering into disorderly sexual relations, constant change of sexual partners)
  • involvement in commercial sex

The presence of any of the following symptoms may not be a direct indicator of sexual abuse. These signs may indicate the necessity for further monitoring to reject or confirm sexual abuse of a child.

A child has become a victim of sexual violence. What should I do?

Any form of child abuse is a psychological trauma that affects all areas of the child's functioning (physiological, intellectual, emotional, personal and interpersonal). If you learn that a child has been sexually abused, your actions should be as follows:

  • Listen to the child, try not to display your anxiety. 
  • After clarifying all the circumstances, be sure to report what has happened to the Children's Affairs Service, National Social Service and police.
  • Do not make promises, such as «We will certainly find and punish the offender» or «This will not happen to you again.»
  • Do not advise the child to forget everything – it is wrong and impossible.
  • Make it clear to the child that he/she is not guilty. Sometimes children tend to take the blame.
  • Be sure to seek the support of a psychotherapist who specializes in sexual trauma and provides a rehabilitation program based on the child's age, situation and severity of the trauma. At this stage, the psychologist can only be supportive. Most likely, the child’s protective mechanism will turn on and he/she will close himself/herself off from everyone. This period may take a while. You cannot put pressure on the child.