Acting director Vanja Slijepčević Saftić Psychologists Gordana Buljan Flander Renata Ćorić Špoljar Bruna Profaca Sanja…
Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb was founded in 2002 in order to provide effective and systematic support of traumatized children and their families (i.e. abused and neglected children, families affected by war). This includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect but as well as children at risk of neglect. Alongside diagnostic and forensic assessment, experts from the Center provide individual and group counseling and support for children and their parents. Within the described array of activities, The Center also organizes and carries out educations, supervision and professional development for experts that work in institutions that are directly involved in the issue of abuse.
The context of the problem and reasons for starting this institution
Every society, no matter the cultural differences, socio-economic status and its stage of development, faces with the issue of child abuse, and societies differ by how they deal with the said issue and how they protect their children. In the last 20 years some of the most developed countries in the world have developed an efficient system for providing help for abused and neglected children and their families. In Croatia’s wider public, the issue of abuse and neglect started becoming relevant and spoken about only in the last 5-6 years, which created a higher awareness of the said issue in the public’s eye. It also created the “opening of the reservoir” effect-the number of abuse disclosure increased, and the incidence of abuse is also on the rise, considering the large number of risk factors, that are present in our society, which influence the appearance of family abuse.
Prevalence and incidence of child abuse
Global research show that emotional abuse of children is on about 30% and that around two thirds of children are exposed, at least occasionally, to emotional abuse from their parents. When it comes to physical abuse, most of the research points to the range between 20-30% of children being exposed to it, and it ranges from beating to serious physical injury. Most authors agree that, when it comes to sexual abuse, every fourth girl and every sixth boy have experienced some form of it. In the last few years in Croatia, there have been research in prevalence of abuse, mostly on adult population. Research done in Croatia show that the statistics relating to prevalence and incidence of child abuse are very similar to those of adult abuse. One research, conducted in 2001, showed that different forms of abuse overlap, a child that is experiencing some form of abuse, often is also experiencing different forms of abuse. This means that a child that has been, in any way, abuse and/or neglected, is also in higher risk to experience sexual abuse as well.
Young women and young men in the research don’t differ according to the rate of different types of abuse experiences, except when it comes to sexual abuse. 25% of girls in the sample have experienced some form of sexual abuse by the age of 14, (which includes masturbation in front of the child, exposing the child to pornographic material, touching intimate parts of the body, forcing the child to touch the adult, forcing the child to perform oral, anal or genital intercourse), while the same goes for 16% of young men. More than 50% of participants have gotten slapped in their childhood, while around 10% of them have often gotten beatings. Sever physical injuries due to particularly intense physical abuse, experienced 7% of participants. In the same research it was found that 30% of the participants have also experienced some form of emotional abuse.
Goal of The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb
The main goal of The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb is to provide efficient and systematic help to abused and neglected children and their families. In this kind of center, based on global experiences, every child is ensured with specialized team approach, in the most efficient and most humane way of solving it’s difficulties. Besides the direct work with children, conducted by sensitized and educated experts, in constant process of perfecting, The Center has an important function of making the cooperation of different institutions involved in the issue of abused children, easier, in service of better child protection.
Results of working with abused and neglected children
Clinical experiences of experts that work with abused children show that prompt diagnostics and adequate therapy approach help in not just reducing symptoms and disorders created as a result of abuse, but also help to stop the transgenerational transfer of abuse. It is known from literature, as well as from clinical experiences, that 70% of abusers were themselves abused in their childhood. Therefore, we can conclude that diagnostic and therapeutic work with abused children, as well as with children who are at risk of abuse (ADHD, prematurely born children, learning difficulties, children from problematic families…) ensures that said children develop into emotionally healthy personalities, and that they don’t repeat the interaction aggressor-victim in their peer relationships and later parental relationships.
The following activities are planned:
Within The Center also operates Brave phone – a non-profit NGO established with the aim of prevention of abuse and neglect, as well as prevention of unacceptable behavior of children and youth and providing direct assistance and support to abused and neglected children and their families.
Activities that volunteers of Brave Phone conduct inside the Center include helpline for children (116 111) and parent helpline (0800 0800), as well as activities aimed at raising public awareness on issues of abuse, education of experts, scientific research and many projects (individual and group) aimed at prevention and counseling.
Adress: Đorđićeva 26, 10000 Zagreb
Working hours: work days 7:30 – 20:00, saturday 07:30 – 15:00