Today we celebrated 15 years of our Centre work. I want to say thank you to all those who contributed to our celebration and supported our work. Special thanks to the children and youth in our Children and Youth Committees and the school children who sent their material and messages to adults, who authentically helped us to clearly present the message of our Centre's endeavours. Their messages about what they need and expect from parents and adults touched all present guests in the Renaissance Hall of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Now I want to briefly present our Centre's work in the past 15 years:
We have noticed that parents sometimes hesitate to seek professional help for their child and their family. In our culture, contacting a psychologist or a psychiatrist is sometimes seen in a negative light. Parents may be judged by others that something is wrong with them or with their child, that they are unable to solve the problem themselves, and similar. Such attitudes may cause the parents to feel shame and resistance, they may develop anger towards their child who 'causes problems' and parents may start taking their child's psychological difficulties personally.
At the time of our grandparents, it was only a TV set, and only for those who could afford it. Today, there are so many screens around us that professionals cannot count them. That is the reason why the expression Screen Time has been introduced. It is the total time someone spends in front of a screen, be it a TV set, laptop, PC, mobile phone, tablet, video game console, or something else. Besides the time we spend in front of screens, we are surrounded by them all the time, whether we want it or not. Screens around us overwhelm our everyday lives with screen saturation, which is another important notion in this study area.
In accordance to best practices in the world, last week we established Parents' Committee, Children's Committee and Youth Committee of the Child and Youth Protection Centre of the City of Zagreb. We want to learn about children's and parents' needs and use that knowledge to advance the work of our Centre.
Dear parents, hug your children as often as you can. Tell them you love them, trust them and believe in them. Do not think you will spoil them (spoiling is when you do their chores instead of them). On the contrary, abundant hugs and expressions of love help them grow into self-confident, happy, self-aware and responsible persons who will be able to make wise and mature decisions.
In the Child and Youth Protection Centre of the City of Zagreb, we work with sexually abused children and their families every day. I am proud to say that here they can find a safe place where they get help and support. On the European Day on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, 18 November, we remind parents to read our publications about how to recognise and respond if the child has been sexually abused: