In the aftermath of the mass murder of 20 children at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School, child advocates are trying to raise awareness of the alarming rate that kids in America continue to be victims of violence, and questioning why it goes largely unreported and unrecognised by the public.
"There's so little attention paid to it and the first thing to know is those numbers are probably seriously undercounted," said Teri Covington, director of the National Center for Child Death Review. "It's been well-documented that those numbers are underreported, perhaps as high as 50 percent. Child abuse cases often don't show up on death certificates because a lot show up as injuries or accidents."The Srebrenica Children Massacre refers to the killing of as many as 62 children among the victims when the elementary school in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, was shelled by the Army of Republika Srpska in April 1993. On April 12, 1993 the Bosnian Serbs told the UNHCR representatives that they would attack the town of Srebrenica within two days unless the Bosniaks surrendered and they did. The same day, Serbs attacked Srebrenica's elementary school, killing 62 Bosniak children and wounding 152 others.
Sead Bekri, one of the survivors, gave evidence to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia describing how he was blinded at the age of 12 "There was a soccer field in Srebrenica on April 12th 1993 and there was a massive amount of people and we had a match and there was a shelling from Zvijezda, from the hill above Bratunac and the soccer field was shelled and I was blinded, together with 62 other people killed on the soccer field... My understanding there was about 60, 62 people killed on that day and there was over 100 wounded on that day."
Survivors were treated by Dr. Nedret Mujkanovi, who in an interview with Chuck Sudetic described how people were sitting around in front of the refugee-packed school and children were playing football and other games. "In less than one minute, seven rockets from a multiple rocket launcher fell in an area about half the size of a football field." Dr. Mujkanovi told Sudetic that 36 people had died immediately and 102 had been seriously wounded. He said that the Serbs knew there was a camp of refugees from Cerska and Konjevi Polje in the school. "They directed their fire at that location. It came completely by surprise.
There were pieces of women scattered about, and you could not see how to fit them together. I saw one dead mother lying on the ground and holding the hands of her two dead children. They all had no heads." Dr. Mujkanovi subsequently gave evidence to the ICTY about the shelling on 12 April. Srebrenica was under general attack. After the fall of Cerska and Konjevi Polje, their population of 15,000 or more had fled to Srebrenica and were accommodated in the primary and secondary schools in Srebrenica and even on the streets. When the school was shelled, over 100 people were killed and approximately the same number seriously injured, including lots of women, lots of children and some men. Dr. Mujkanovi also told the Tribunal how the evacuation of the injured had been shelled by the Serbs.There is some confusion about the final number of the dead. No formal investigation was conducted as far as Sead Bekri's evidence to the ICTY indicates. The memorial at the site refers to the commemoration of between 70 and 100 victims.
Panorama of Srebrenica
The massacre and the injured Sead Bekri were seen as emblematic of the fate of the child victims of the violent war of ethnic cleansing unleashed in Bosnia. Sead's face was shown around the world by CNN television. The cover of the 10 May 1993 edition of Newsweek magazine printed one large, self-explanatory word across Sead's injured chest: "Bosnia". The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum features testimony by Christiane Amanpour about the massacre along with a report showing the arrival in Tuzla of a number of wounded child survivors, including Sead Bekri.
This massacre occurred immediately before the United Nations declared Srebrenica a "safe haven", and more than two years before the Srebrenica genocide.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (c) Panorama of Srebrenica May 2006
The massacre is one of the crimes with which Radovan Karad and Ratko Mladi were charged under the July 24, 1995 indictment issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the fomer Yugoslavia. The incident is also mentioned in Emir Suljagi's personal account of the siege and fall of Srebrenica, "Postcards from the Grave. Youth violence was a major federal priority under former US Surgeon General C. Everett Coop in the 1980s, Covington said, but has largely dropped from the national conversation since that time.
"There once was a really strong emphasis on youth violence in terms of prevention rather than a criminal justice response," she said. "But there's been very little since." Covington praised the Protect Our Kids Act, which establishes a national commission to study child fatalities and was passed by the House of Representatives last week, but noted that the effort was well underway prior to the December 14 shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children.
"It's just ironic," she said of the timing. "It's a good first step. It's the first time we've had anything at the federal level to focus on these fatalities." Gerald Landsberg, a professor of social work at New York University and director of its Institute Against Violence, said cases of children dying occur every day in the US and "most of them" are overlooked.
Dr. Ipeleng Randie Senyne,DPr,Dmin,MC,MCE
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