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Council of Europe Regional Conference in Centre

The second day of the Conference was held at the Child Protection Center of Zagreb. The model of helping sexually abused children was shown through several presentations.

Council of Europe Regional Conference “Stopping child sexual abuse – ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse” was held in Zagreb 27 and 28 October 2011.

The main aim of the Council of Europe Campaign, including this Regional Conference, is promoting the signing, ratification and implementation of the Lanzarote Convention (2007) of the Council of Europe on the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse. Besides that, the Campaign aims at empowering children, parents, professionals and the society with necessary knowledge and tools to prevent sexual abuse, encourage stopping and reporting child sexual abuse and at increasing public awareness of this problem.

Neglecting child abuse is obstacle to democracy and social development

The first day of the Regional Conference was held in cooperation with the Ministry of the Family, Veterans’ Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity and the Ministry of Justice at the Westin Hotel in Zagreb. Participants were the representatives from Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.

The Council of Europe Secretary Deputy Maud de Boer Buquicchio said at the inaugural opening that sexual exploitation and abuse of children was one of the most serious types of violence against children and violation of their fundamental human rights. International organisations estimate that every fifth child is exposed to some form of sexual violence or abuse – sexual exploitation, pornography and internet pornography etc. Neglecting this problem is an obstacle to democracy and social development, said she.

The second day of the Conference was held at the Child Protection Center of Zagreb. The model of helping sexually abused children was shown through several presentations. With her presentation The Protection of Sexually Abused Children: From Practice to Policy,  Gordana Buljan Flander, Assoc. Prof., Ph. D., Director of Child Protection Center of Zagreb, talked about the very beginnings of tackling this problem in Croatia and with the work of the Center. In presenting the activity of the Center, in line with the Conference aims, the emphasis was on the model of helping sexually abused children. The model of work of the Center includes: respecting the specific knowledge of every profession, multidisciplinarity, team work and cooperation with other institutions, direct and indirect interventions of team members and personal involvement of every professional.

Three level model of helping sexually abused children

Next, Bruna Profaca, Ph. D.,  head of the diagnosing and treatment in the Center delivered the presentation Analysis of Indicators and Characteristics of Sexually Abused Children in the Child Protection Center of Zagreb, showing family and psychosocial characteristics of children included in the assessment and treatment in the Center. These children annually make 7 to 12 percent of the total number of children included in the Center. After that,  Director Gordana Buljan Flander delivered the presentation titled Intervention in the treatment of sexually abused children and supporting the non-abusive parent, where she presented the three level model of helping sexually abused children: intervention with the child, intervention with the non-abusive parent and intervention in cooperation with the institutions of the system.

Final presentation was about the cooperation of the Center with other institutions in prevention and intervention in helping sexually abused children – experience of professionals. Several recognised experts talked about their collaboration with the Center: Prof. dr sc. Dubravka Kocijan, Assoc. Prof. Ph. D., child psychiatrist and supervisor of Center’s professionals, professor at the Faculty of Rehabilitation and Education and Medical Faculty, Štefica Karačić, social worker, Director of the Dubrava Office of Zagreb Social Care Center and the President of Croatian Association of Social Workers, Renata Odeljan, Head of Juvenile Delinquency and Crime Against the Youth and Family Department, and Lana Peto Kujundžić, County Court Judge, President of the Juvenile Department, President of the Association of Youth and Family Judges and Specialists.

Mila Jelavić, Ombudsman for Children in Croatia participated in the discussion, emphasizing that her office has been recommending and making efforts in spreading the Center’s model of work in other parts of Croatia. Representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Greece participated in the discussion and expressed their satisfaction with the presented results and the model of work at the Center.

At the closing of the Conference in the Child Protection Center of Zagreb, Liri Kopaçi-Di Michele, Head of Justice and Human Dignity Division at the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe expressed high regard of the presented work of the Child Protection Center of Zagreb and satisfaction with the actual implementation in practice of the Council of Europe guidelines for the protection of sexually abused children.