Non-violent Childhoods

To raise attention to the fact that it is possible to change policies, attitudes and behaviours, the Council of the Baltic Sea States organised a high-level conference on implementing the prohibition of corporal punishment in November. The conference was co-hosted by the Government of Sweden and in cooperation with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children.

Six new reports to promote progress to help States to implement a legal ban on physical and humiliating punishment were launched at the conference.

Read more about the Non-violent Childhood project and the tools here

Child Circle is proud to have supported the development of two reports for the non-violent childhoods project:

Parenting for non-violent childhoods: Positive parenting to achieve an end to corporal punishment.

This guidance report takes as its starting point a discussion of how parenting has evolved in a changing world. It looks at what positive parenting is and provides a brief overview of universal, indicative and selective initiatives. The key principles that guide initiatives to promote positive parenting are introduced. The guidance report concludes with recommendations to guide States in selecting positive parenting initiatives, drawing in particular on the experience of countries in the Baltic Sea Region.

Building supportive societies for non-violent childhoods: Awareness-raising campaigns to achieve an end to corporal punishment.

This guidance report looks at the different types of campaigns and actions that can be used to generate more aware and supportive societies, ultimately helping to bring about a shift away from corporal punishment towards non-violent parenting. It takes as its starting point a short discussion of awareness-raising and campaigning in a changing world before taking a closer look at the cornerstones of generating social transformation and changing individual behaviours. The guidance report concludes with an overview of recommendations for actors who wish to raise awareness and campaign on the issue of corporal punishment in order to change attitudes and practice in support of non-violent childhoods.

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Perspectives on children from the House of European History

MuseumWhen I ask you about the definition of child protection in Europe, what comes in mind at first? You probably would think of protecting weak children against ‘the bad’, but that is a very wrong way of putting it. Child protection must be based in respecting children’s rights and their capability. An often-made misconception from adults about children is that children do not really want to participate in society. ‘Let them just be children as long as possible’, I often hear. The people who say this want to keep children out of the serious, adult part of life – being money issues, fights, crises, war etc. – as long as possible. Of course, it is logical that adults think like this because when you think about it you will only be a child for a very short period of your life so children should enjoy every bit of their freedom until they become an adult. But this does not mean that children should be kept out of the adult world and be treated as such.

For instance, I, a child, am interested in ‘adult things’, like politics and history. Of course, I am enjoying some parts of being a child, like not having to pay for a house and not having to work. But I do not like other parts of it, like not being able to vote and not having access to some places that are 18+. This makes that it really annoys me when we children are treated as less than adults. Less smart, less responsible, less independent… I know a lot of people who are also younger than eighteen but who are very interested in adult things and want to be involved in it.

During the May holidays, I went to the House of European History in Brussels. This is a very interesting museum about Europe’s history, going from the formation of Europe up until the present. Rebecca O’Donnell, expert from Child Circle, gave me a task for this visit, which was to have a look in the museum and see what I found that had a connection between children and the European Union. And so there I was, walking around in the permanent exhibition just let everything wash over me. As I was looking for pictures or stories about children, there was one thing that I noticed. In all those ancient pamphlets, pictures and stories it became quite clear to me that children were kind of portrayed as weak. A very interesting pamphlet I found was the one above. It comes from Russia during the cold war. As you can see it is a man, flexing his biceps, and a boy looking aspiring at it and touching it. The man says ‘Do you want to be like me? Training, training and more training!’ In this picture, I personally saw that weakness of children I just mentioned. The man is portrayed as this exemplary adult who is everything the young and incapable child should want to be. I find that it is a shame that children are seen as less than adults and that there is always talked about adults being an example for the children, when there should me more focus on the capability of children themselves, and their rights. Therefore, it is so important that there are organisations like Child Circle and Missing Children whose work is about ensuring respect for children’s rights when protecting children. So they do not protect them as weak children, but as capable children that matter.  – Merel Bakhuizen, the Netherlands

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“Thinking Outside the Box”: Separated Children Project, Closing Event London

In judicial proceedings where a child is separated – or at risk of separation – from their parents, there is a real risk that their situation is not properly addressed.  Since January 2016, the Separated Children in Judicial Proceedings project has aimed to generate a more child-centred approach in cases involving separated children, through exchange of experience between different specialisations and different judicial settings (cross fertilisation) and by building specialized knowledge on children’s rights, landmark jurisprudence and strategic litigation opportunities. Our closing event in London “Thinking Outside the Box” reflects on the issues examined and ongoing developments in law, policy and practice which have been explored in the Project over the last two years.  

We are very grateful to the many judges, lawyers, academics, guardians, social workers, policy makers and NGOs working on children’s rights or justice issues for contributing their expertise to events in Brussels, Dublin, London and Zagreb to explore key issues for separated children.  We have connected with ongoing initiatives supporting regional  child rights training in similar fields, including the FAIR project led by ICJ, Uprights led by ECRE and My Lawyers My Rights led by DCI. We have enjoyed invaluable support from children’s ombudsmen’s offices, UN agencies, the Council of Europe and the EU institutions. We thank in particular the European Commission for EU funding which made this innovative project possible. 

 Read the reports and presentations from the project events  on the Separated Children in Judicial Proceedings website.  Training materials will shortly be made available to support continued exchange and capacity building in Europe.

The Separated Children Project was awarded stand out project by the Financial Times in the category of Rule of Law and Access to Justice 2017 – click here to view the ranking

 

 

World Congress on Justice for Children

The World Congress on Justice for Children will be held 28 – 30 May in Paris.

Focus will be on children’s involvement in violent extremism, reducing juvenile offending and recidivism, and improving protection mechanisms for vulnerable children.

Under the haut-patronage of UNESCO, this World Congress on Justice for Children will be held from 28-30 May 2018 to address three major issues:
➜ The global trend towards children’s involvement in violent extremism and possible responses,
➜ The need for more effective ways to reduce juvenile offending and recidivism,
➜ How to improve protection mechanisms for vulnerable children, including early prevention.

The 2018 World Congress on Justice for Children aims to bring together professionals and stakeholders from all around the world to share their perspectives on:
➜ youth and family justice,
➜ the prevention of offending and violent extremism

The 2018 World Congress is organised by a consortium of international organisations composed by the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates (IAYFJM), Terre des hommes Foundation, and Penal Reform International (PRI) with Child Rights International Network (CRIN), Defence for Children International (DCI), Judicial Training Institute of Belgium (IGO-IFJ) and the Information for All Programme (IFAP) of UNESCO.

Meet us there!

For more information go to https://j4c2018.org/en/home/

Launch of renewed action to promote the Barnahus model in Europe

Promise 2 logoThe PROMISE 2 Project Partners met in January to officially launch the beginning of a new exciting collaboration to promote progress in establishing and operating Barnahus in Europe.

PROMISE 2 supports several countries in Europe in their work to improve and sustain multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration to ensure that child victims and witnesses of violence can benefit from a child-friendly, professional and effective response in a safe environment. The partners will be engaged in a number of activities to promote progress, including:

  • gaining commitment by facilitating inter-agency dialogue and developing roadmaps, inter-agency agreements and frameworks;
  • building a competent and committed workforce, including professionals from law enforcement, judiciary, medical and mental health staff and social workers;
  • translating the Barnahus Quality Standards, which define the principles and good practice standards for services that want to operate according to the Barnahus model;
  • organising training for Barnahus staff in forensic interviews, psychotherapy, medical treatment, multi-disciplinary collaboration and data collection.
    developing a methodology based on existing practices to gather children’s views on their experience in Barnahus.

PROMISE 2 builds on learning from the first PROMISE project (2015-2017), which supported government officials and practitioners from more than 11 countries to establish Barnahus or similar institutions. A series of exchange meetings, study visits and capacity building efforts raised the level of knowledge of the government officials and practitioners, who also contributed to the development of standards and guidelines.

PROMISE also produced a series of resources for Government officials and practitioners who have an interest in establishing and operating Barnahus.

Working together across Europe

Whether you are a formal partner or not, your engagement is essential to the PROMISE Vision: a Europe where child victims and witnesses of violence are protected by child-friendly interventions and rapid accss to justice and care. To that end, you are heartily invited to be our informal partners:

  • The PROMISE resources are open and free for you to use inspire national and global level to invest in Barnahus and similar models.
  • The webinar series will address fundamental topics and take deep dives into key challenges.
  • Encourage your colleagues to subscribe to the newsletter and social media for news about the progress in Europe and other important events.

Read more about the Promise 2 project: http://www.childreatrisk.eu/promise

 What is a Barnahus?

When a child is exposed to violence, a number of different actors, including social services, medical and mental health services and law enforcement actors, have a duty to safeguard and promote the rights and well-being of the child. Where these actors do not work together, the child can be drawn into parallel enquiries and assessments, moving between different agencies and disciplines, potentially causing repetitious and intimidating experiences, which can result in retraumatisation of the child and hinder the child’s disclosure and participation.

This is not only harmful for the child, but a serious problem since the child’s disclosure and participation is fundamental to ensure the safety and protection of the child, to determine the need for physical and mental recovery, and to secure a successful and child-friendly criminal investigation and judicial process.

In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition that multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration is crucial to fulfilling the rights of child victims and witnesses of violence to protection, participation, support and assistance.

Barnahus is recognised as a leading child-friendly, multidisciplinary and interagency model responding to child victims and witnesses of violence. The name Barnahus (“a house for children”) originates from Iceland where the first Barnahus was founded in 1998 under the leadership of Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson.

 

Photos from Barnahus in Iceland and Linköping (Sweden)

Since then, many more Barnahus have been set up, mainly in the Nordic countries. In the past two years, there has been a substantial progress in Europe in setting up, piloting and planning for the establishment of Barnahus. Similar models already exist in for example Croatia and the Netherlands.

The purpose of Barnahus is to offer each child a coordinated and effective response and to prevent retraumatisation during investigation and court proceedings. One key role of the Barnahus is to help produce valid evidence for judicial proceedings by eliciting the child’s disclosure so that the child does not have to appear in Court should the case be prosecuted.  In carrying out this role, the Barnahus offers a one-stop-shop approach, embracing cooperation between relevant authorities and agencies such as police, social services, child protection, physical and mental health services and prosecutor in one child-friendly premise. The Barnahus also plays an important role in enhancing awareness and knowledge of violence against children with key stakeholders.

 

Supporting Child Centred Justice for Separated Children in Migration

On October 19th and 20th, the Separated Children in Judicial Proceedings project held a mutual learning & training event amongst legal practitioners, professionals & organisations working on litigation concerning separated children in migration.

Icarus

In closing, Child Circle talked about the lines the English poet, WH Auden, wrote about a painting in the Beaux Arts museum in Brussels called the Fall of Icarus by Breughel.  The poem opens with the words:

About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;”

It goes on to say:

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green Water,

and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

In this event, we had talked about children in migration who are separated from their parents.  Sometimes these are children who seem to have fallen from the sky and certainly there are children that have surfaced from the water. And we saw also that this happens while most of the world just continues going about its business.

Perhaps most of the world thinks that surely the right procedures and systems must be in place to make sure the child is identified as a child, assisted and protected and that a durable solution is found for them.  But what we saw in the course of the event is that lawyers and organisations working with children in justice proceedings often have a mountain to climb to protect them. And as the lawyer Pierre Robert had quoted in his session “limitations on legal aid may be the best migration control measures”.

In closing, Child Circle underlined just a few of the key points in the discussion.

First it is important to understand how laws, which might at first not seem to have direct application, should be applied.  This might be the case with certain provisions of the UN CRC which are not always put to the fore in migration cases, such as the right to identity and the right to education. It might also concern how instruments such as the 1996 Hague Convention on parental responsibility and protection of children can be used to put protection measures in place when lawyers and courts work across borders, which was discussed by Philippe Lortie of the Hague Conference.

We saw how it is important to have different actors working together.  We saw the role of the guardian in working with the lawyer from the presentation of Germa Lourens of Nidos, and the role of organisations working to try and make connections between lawyers in different jurisdictions, from the presentations of Julie Zelvenska of ECRE, Karolina Babicka of ICJ and Olga Siebert of Safe Passage. The question of the role of cultural mediators was raised in one session and perhaps one of the most important roles they have is helping children understand the role of the actors around them.

And what of the children that don’t land here but perhaps seem to be “catapulted” out of Europe, in certain return cases, such as the recent deportation to Afghanistan mentioned by one panelist?  A national court might be tempted to decide that there should be no appeal where the child has disappeared from view on return to the country of origin. This might bring into play the ruling an exceptional case mentioned by Judge Bianku of the European Court of Human Rights in his keynote speech in which the Court found that a NGOs can represent people with disabilities who died due to violations of their rights, when there was no one else to seek justice on their behalf. Where a child has been returned, should there not be a way to seek justice on their behalf by ensuring the guardian or another organisation can continue the appeal?

After two days, we were left with much food for thought from excellent contributions  from Michelle Levoy of PICUM, Samuel Boutruche of UNHCR, Isabella Atanasiu and Margaret Tuite of the European Commission, Benoit Van Keirsbilick of DCI Belgium, Silvie Sarolea of the University of Leuven and Pierre Robert of Dayez avocats, Nadine Finch, Elena Rozzi (ASGI), Nuala Mole & Markella Papadouli of the AIRE Centre and Judge Ledi Bianku of the European Court of Human Rights, all with the support of Luc Van der Brande of the Committee of the Regions.

Thanks to all from Rebecca & Olivia at Child Circle and from all the other partners of the Separated Children in Judicial Proceedings project, which is led by the AIRE Centre, with Rosa and the UCC Child Law Clinic.

Towards a European network of guardians for unaccompanied children in migration

On October 6, the European Commission and representatives from Member States, EU agencies, IGOs and NGOs working on issues concerning guardianship met to explore the development of a European network of guardians, as anticipated in the Commission Communication on the protection of children in migration.

Child Circle is very supportive of the development of a European guardianship network, which we see as an important and necessary step to fulfilling the rights of unaccompanied and separated children in migration. We recognise the challenges of forging a European network, given the very diverse ways of organising guardianship across Europe and the variations in how guardianship is addressed in EU provisions on asylum, trafficking and return measures.  Our input at the meeting focussed on how best to start developing a network, with the aim of rapidly demonstrating its value and impact.

We recommend that the initial steps towards a European network of guardians be organised in an inclusive and simple way. We support the idea of building on the ENGI initiative which has been led by the Dutch guardianship authority Nidos.  We recommend that there should be different ways for different actors and organisations to connect to a European network.  Ideally stakeholders could contribute to activities across the key dimensions of guardianship, including the policy framework, national organisation of responsibilities, daily practice, cooperation with other actors, international cooperation and monitoring.

We also recommend that the network initially should be targeted on clear and simple goals, in particular: creating a better understanding of the guardian’s roles in each country; supporting Member States in better organising and supporting guardianship; sharing common tools to ensure guardians fulfil the obligations in EU and international law on child rights; and promoting cross border cooperation between guardians and other actors.

By keeping a strong and practical focus, the European network should be in a position rapidly to demonstrate its value and practical impact. Stakeholders should be creative about finding ways for the network to evolve further and to establish sustainable funding.  Six years ago, a policy discussion at EU level addressed the question “Does guardianship matter?”  Now the conversation is about: how do we all work together to improve guardianship? Looking five years down the road, let’s think about what our future conversations on guardianship should concern.  Might a Europe network ultimately be in a position to support Member States in better managing sensitive cross border cases, including in cases of Dublin transfers, trafficking and disappearances?Walk before you run, but let’s keep moving in the right direction – bolstering the vital safeguard of guardianship so as to fulfil children’s rights.

For more information on guardianship, see ProGuard, an EU co-funded project, led by Nidos, in which Child Circle is a partner.

Towards More Effective Litigation Strategies for Migrant Children in Europe

Across Europe, cases involving separated children in migration are coming before the courts. Asylum seekers or trafficked, or separated from family and at risk, their cases often concern complex factual circumstances and sensitive legal issues, such as age assessment, detention, appropriate reception conditions and access to guardians.  International fora, such as the EuroLogo_SepCHpean Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Justice and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, provide necessary avenues for appeal or interpretation, but require careful navigation. The Separated Children in Judicial Proceedings project aims to share litigation experience from organisations and professionals within countries and across borders.  Next event in Brussels October 19/20, with livestream of main seminar, see what’s new.

Upcoming Launch of Two New European Projects for Unaccompanied Children and Child Victims of Violence

Two new projects, ProGuard and PROMISE II, co-funded by the EU and in which Child Circle is a partner, will commence this autumn.

ProGuard will start in October 2017, led by Nidos in the Netherlands.   Guardianship for unaccompanied children in migration is a vital support and protection for them and should be part of every European national system. The ProGuard project will enable member states further to professionalise the work of their guardians and the protection systems they are part of, thus further improving the outcomes for the children in the system. It will involve the establishment of a European accreditation system as well as capacity building resources.

PROMISE II, led by the Council of Baltic Sea States, is a continuation of the PROMISE project, which developed practical tools and facilitated mutual exchange and learning to promote interagency and multidisciplinary services for child victims and witnesses of violence.

PROMISE II has a strong focus on national level implementation. The partners will work in 11 European countries to develop, promote and facilitate:

  • Active use of the PROMISE resources, including the Barnahus Quality Standards and the Tracking Tool
  • National roundtables, dialogue, roadmaps, frameworks and agreements for the establishment of services for child victims and witnesses of violence (Barnahus)
  • Tailor-made training for Barnahus staff
  • European-level network engagement through webinars and chats
  • Judicial sector workshops
  • A methodology for gathering the perspectives of Children on the operation and impact of Barnahus services
  • Expanding visibility and outreach to promote the Barnahus model in Europe and globally

What is a Barnahus? Read more

 

 

The European Barnahus Movement

The European Barnahus Movement is a network of professionals committed to child friendly, effective multidisciplinary and interagency services for child victims and witnesses of violence. The movement promotes the Barnahus model, which you can learn more about below.

The movement was launched in June 2017 in Brussels in the final conference of the PROMISE project, with the support of a number of key actors including Ms Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Ms Susan Bissell,  Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. Read more about the conference here

Over the past two years, the PROMISE project gathered experts, practitioners, Government officials, NGOs, academia and others to promote interagency and multidisciplinary services for child victims and witnesses of violence. A second phase of the project with focus on national implementation will be kicked off in January 2018.

Promoting the Barnahus model with practical resources

The PROMISE project produced a number of resources including practical tools, research and guidance to promote Barnahus in Europe.

2017_06_07_GoodPractice_cover_Barnahus_A4-3mm_print_A[1]The European Barnahus Standards represent the first attempt in Europe to define the principles of the interventions and services referred to as the “Barnahus” model. The key purpose of the standards is to provide a common operational and organisational framework that promotes practices which prevents retraumatisation, while securing valid testimonies for Court, and complies with children’s rights to protection, assistance and child-friendly justice.

 

2017_06_07_GoodPractice_cover_Enabling_A4-3mm_print_A[1]The report on Enabling Child-Sensitive Justice provides an overview of how the Barnahus model has emerged and gradually expanded in Europe. It documents how government officials, practitioners, advocates and entrepreneurs have promoted the model, unyielding even when confronted with doubts, obstacles and adversities. The report identifies the factors and dynamics that have enabled the establishment of the Barnahus model and lessons learned. The accounts from Barnahus pioneers and leading agents of change offer reflections and observations that can guide the establishment of the Barnahus model in other countries.

2017_06_07_GoodPractice_cover_Compendium_A4-3mm_print_A[1]

 

The PROMISE Compendium on Law and Guidance: European and International instruments concerning Child Victims and Witnesses of Violence includes an overview of Instruments concerning Child Victims and Witnesses of Violence the PROMISE Compendium of Law & Guidance provides a comprehensive view of the legal framework and authoritative guidance concerning the rights of child victims and witnesses across the EU, Council of Europe and United Nations (UN).

 

2017_06_07_GoodPractice_cover_Progress_A4-3mm_print_A[1]

 

The PROMISE Advocacy Guidance aims to help you develop national and regional advocacy strategies to promote progress on Barnahus. Such advocacy can play a vital role in encouraging improvements to responses concerning child victims and witnesses of violence. Once policymakers, professionals and the public have heard and understood how Barnahus can fulfil the rights of these children, support for the Barnahus model has consistently grown.

 

 

2017_06_07_GoodPractice_cover_Tracking_A4-3mm_print_A[1]The PROMISE Tracking Tool is a tool to track progress against the European Barnahus Quality Standards, which provide a good practice framework for multidisciplinary and interagency services that want to bring their practice in line with the Barnahus model. The aim of the tracking tool is to provide services for child victims and witnesses of violence with a self-evaluation tool that can help determine their position in the process of becoming a multidisciplinary and interagency service consistent with the Barnahus model.

 

 

What is a Barnahus?

When a child is exposed to violence, a number of different actors, including social services, medical and mental health services and law enforcement actors, have a duty to safeguard and promote the rights and well-being of the child. Where these actors do not work together, the child can be drawn into parallel enquiries and assessments, moving between different agencies and disciplines, potentially causing repetitious and intimidating experiences, which can result in retraumatisation of the child and hinder the child’s disclosure and participation.

This is not only harmful for the child, but a serious problem since the child’s disclosure and participation is fundamental to ensure the safety and protection of the child, to determine the need for physical and mental recovery, and to secure a successful and child-friendly criminal investigation and judicial process.

In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition that multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration is crucial to fulfilling the rights of child victims and witnesses of violence to protection, participation, support and assistance.

Barnahus is recognised as a leading child-friendly, multidisciplinary and interagency model responding to child victims and witnesses of violence. The name Barnahus (“a house for children”) originates from Iceland where the first Barnahus was founded in 1998 under the leadership of Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson.

 

Photos from Barnahus in Iceland and Linköping (Sweden)

Since then, many more Barnahus have been set up, mainly in the Nordic countries. In the past two years, there has been a substantial progress in Europe in setting up, piloting and planning for the establishment of Barnahus. Similar models already exist in for example Croatia and the Netherlands.

The purpose of Barnahus is to offer each child a coordinated and effective response and to prevent retraumatisation during investigation and court proceedings. One key role of the Barnahus is to help produce valid evidence for judicial proceedings by eliciting the child’s disclosure so that the child does not have to appear in Court should the case be prosecuted.  In carrying out this role, the Barnahus offers a one-stop-shop approach, embracing cooperation between relevant authorities and agencies such as police, social services, child protection, physical and mental health services and prosecutor in one child-friendly premise. The Barnahus also plays an important role in enhancing awareness and knowledge of violence against children with key stakeholders.