Accession of Croatia to the European Union opens opportunities for a better and more intensive cooperation between the Child Protection Center of Zagreb and the Council of Europe and the European Union member states. We have been invited to present our practice of hearing children-victims during the criminal pre-trial in the child friendly environment. The presentation was held at the Council of Europe Strasbourg Seminar on 9 February 2012.
I am proud that the campaign ‘Raise your hand against smacking’ organised by the Council of Europe was launched in Croatia. I am also proud that Croatia introduced a ban on corporal punishment of children in its legislation in 1999. It ranked Croatia among the most progressive European countries. I believe that the development of a society may be assessed by how its systems protect children.
However, as pointed out at the meeting of the Council of Europe’s representatives in Zagreb, the elimination of corporal punishment requires intensive efforts in three areas: legal framework, policy measures and awareness raising. Although the legal framework has been established, the latter two still have to be developed.
The implementation of all legal measures in preventing violence and child protection has to be ensured. Permanent education and support for all experts working with children and their families has to be enabled. Availability of psychological help for children and parents in all parts of Croatia has to be provided, which requires more mental health professionals employed. They will not only intervene when the damage has occurred, but work in prevention, too. They will, together with the concerned institutions of the system, provide the necessary support to quality parenting.
The meeting pointed out that positive parenting included:
– nurturing, care, love and safety
– setting and following the standard of appropriate and defining the inappropriate behaviour together with making a good role-model for children, setting boundaries and guiding children to achieve personal safety and development of self-esteem
– expressing permanent interest for children, listening to them and acknowledging them as individuals
– empowerment which strengthens children’s feelings of competence, personal control and possibility of influencing attitudes and behaviour of others.
Our Center has been committed to these aims since its beginning six years ago – we do not only intervene but actively work in the prevention of inappropriate dealing with children, including corporal punishment. Besides organising the education of parents, children and experts, we distribute a series of educational publications free. These are also available to download on our web site. The Center cooperates with the Brave phone, a helpline for abused and neglected children on a daily basis. We recommend their brochures about positive parenting which can be found on The Brave phone .