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:
At the press conference on the occasion of the International Family Day, the representative of the Parent’s Committee of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, Berislava Picek, invited parents to pay attention not only to the physical health but also the mental health of the child:
“As a parent myself I would like to invite all parents to listen to their children even when they aren’t speaking, to watch their behavior, to observe their nonverbal communication that says a lot and not to be afraid if they find that there are problems they can’t handle as parents. That’s nothing to be afraid of. It is good to recognize these things in time and go where you need to go on time. It is much easier to deal with it in the beginning, than if we let things go too far. Parent’s Committee includes both moms and dads, and I would like to say that parenting is equally important in these two roles. And we are very proud of our dads in the Parent’s committee, who are creative, concrete and full of ideas. And I would certainly like to invite parents to turn to us if they have any suggestion, idea, some problem or anything, and we will try to help the Center in their name on behalf of our children. ”
I believe that this is a beautiful and useful message to parents on the occasion of the International Day of Parents celebrated on June 1st. Unfortunately, even today it is difficult for some parents to seek help and admit that it is not easy for them to face the challenges of parenting. I would like to inform all parents that it is not shameful or a sign of parental incompetence to ask for help when we need it, in fact, we are doing harm to our child otherwise. When we seek help we are taking care not only of the child, but also of the family and for ourselves, and we are showing the child that it’s okay to not to know the answer sometimes or not to be able to do it yourself as long as you work hard and try to solve the problem.
If there is a need for professional assistance or treatment, there is no need to run away from the assistance of other systems, such as the social welfare system, educational system … because all of us experts are here to help parents realize their capacity and parental potential.
Whenever we work with a child, it is important that we work with the parents too. Regardless of our education and professional experience, nothing can cure a child as much as relationship with a parent, and sometimes also a change in a parent who is the child’s main model and object of love. Unfortunately, some parents are unable or unwilling to cooperate in the best interest of the child. Then a child’s right to protection, life, health, safety and integrity overcomes parental rights. As a profession and as a society, we always have to have a child in focus, because that is exactly what we are asking for from parents as well.
I would like to say to all those parents who wondered, “Am I a good parent?”; who were the happiest and the proudest, but also the saddest and the angriest in various situations with their children; who made mistakes, but admitted them and sought to change; who repeatedly and with sincere interest asked about their child’s wellbeing; who consistently kept to the rules for children even when it was not easy for them; who comforted their children for whatever reason they were sad; who encouraged their children to climb that tree even though they were afraid that the child might fall; who have ever felt inadequate because the child did not develop exactly by the book; and who were their physicians, drivers, chefs, tailors, shoulders to cry on, their super heroes – look for support when you and your child need it.