After I publicly spoke out about my child’s brutal beating, I was amazed that dozens of parents had reached out to me with similar experiences. I realized that this phenomenon had metastasized in Montenegrin society.

Darko Saveljic

Although our suffering may seem insignificant in the face of the scale of the Belgrade tragedy, I believe that the following lines describe a situation that hides serious and dangerous problems. This may be able to help many people to speak up and force the system to respond effectively and efficiently to the growing, or rather alarming, peer to peer violence.

My son, a student of second grade of  high school, was recently sitting in a cafe with three friends, when three of their peers came and sat next to them. They didn’t know them and so they got up and went outside. Five or six more delinquents waited for them out front. They pointed their phones at them. “Come on, now say it – we are recording you – we are p…”. My son and his friends didn’t want to say it and a fight broke out. They threw them on the floor, kicked them with their legs…

They ended that night by staying in the emergency room until three in the morning. Then the police station.

Maybe everything would have ended there if the next day, at one o’clock in the afternoon when school starts, those same delinquents whom the police immediately called for an interview, had not showed up at the school. They started making fun of them and insulting them: “We can’t believe you’d reported us to the police, you p…”, and then they started beating them again.

It was clear to me that my child was a victim of brutal violence, so I started sharing this on social media, considering quite a few people follow me on there. I was amazed that dozens of parents had reached out to me with similar experiences. I realized that this phenomenon had metastasized in Montenegrin society.

I read about peer on peer violence, and thought it couldn’t happen to my children, but it seems that any child can be a victim. I also connected with the non-governmental organization, wanting to kickstart a campaign and try to make even a small contribution in order to change something for the better in that field.

I presented our case of peer on peer violence, not only because of my child, but for all parents and all children in Montenegro, driven by conviction that we should not remain silent on these matters. In communication with, we saw what was wrong with the system. We’ve determined several priorities and requested that the government urgently convene a session of the Council for the Rights of the Child where measures to prevent and suppress violence would be discussed; introducing new educational measures for offenders, a system of supervision of their families and punishment for parental misconduct; defining a  social service to support victims of violence, given that this does not exist in Montenegrin society; changes in legal regulations.

Meanwhile, just around the time the violence against my child took place, a public debate on the law regarding cases of juvenile delinquency had concluded. The Ministry of Justice and Social Welfare rejected all the amendments of the NGO, which referred to the increased supervision of parents in families with juvenile delinquents.

Three days after the violence against my son, more violence took place in Bar, when athletes from Bosnia and Herzegovina were brutally beaten. Almost every day we have a new case of peer on peer violence, but most recently in an elementary school in Podgorica, when a parent took the law into his own hands and beat up a boy who was allegedly blackmailing his daughter.

I believe that the worst possible scenario is people taking law into their own hands. A lot of people had called me and told me: kudos to you for your patience and how you dealt with it, I would have gone to the school school and solved it myself. Obviously, not all people have the same thresholds of tolerance, and not all people are reasonable and sober. It is by no means good to respond to violence with violence. We all simply have to make sure our systems work.


Darko Saveljić is an environmental activist, father of a boy – victim of peer violence