Regarding the media reports about 13-year old boy from Backa Topola who has suffered peer violence for years and problems which his entire family encounter (a single mother with three children, including one with Down syndrome), Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic appeals to all relevant institutions, from Ministries to local self-government, to immediately undertake all available measures in order to provide protection and decent living conditions to the members of this family.
“Without going into the decision of the prosecution on the violence that the boy suffered from his school mates, it is obvious that this was discrimination on ground of property status, according to the available data in this case. Stigmatizing and exclusion of children because of their property status may lead to serious consequences in their further growing up, development and socialization”, said Commissioner Jankovic. She emphasizes that complaints because of discrimination on ground of property status are rare and that in such cases people who report should be particularly supported.
Commissioner warns that it can be concluded that other members of the family are exposed to discrimination, since the boy’s mother, who was also in a wheelchairs for years, said that she cannot work because she has to take care about her 9-year old son who lives with Down syndrome. According to her words, he is incapable to walk alone and doesn’t attend school because the municipality is not able to provide him transportation to the school for children with developmental difficulties in Subotica.
Assessing that it is impermissible that individuals and families, such is this unemployed single mother and her three kids, have no adequate support, Jankovic stresses that system was out of function in this case and that we, as a society, need to do much more to improve the position of the most vulnerable persons, because poverty must not be a ground of discrimination.