“Children in the family – what do they experience and witness?” was the title of the lecture our Director, Gordana Buljan Flander, Assoc. Prof., PH.D., gave on Wednesday, 16 May at the Dubrovnik Archdiocesan Catechist Day in the John Paul II Hall in Dubrovnik. Dr Flander emphasised the importance of identifying symptoms of abuse in children by catechism teachers and priests, since they should also be the persons in whom such children may confide.
Psychologist from the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb Ella Selak Bagarić was a guest in a Croatian Catholic Radio show on the role of Social Welfare Centers in child care, broadcasted on 14th of March 2019, with the director of the Social Welfare Center of Zagreb Tatjana Brozić Perić and Gordana Daniel of the Croatian Social Workers’ Association:
“Director of the Social Welfare Center Zagreb Tatjana Brozić Perić explained that each Center is a public institution that operates under Croatian law and added: “Children, families and all our groups come first to us and we have to get involved in that family through our public powers. Sometimes just by giving advice, but sometimes we have to promptly make some decisions or suggest certain measures to the court. ”
The importance of teamwork in the Center
Brozić Perić added that there is no arbitrary treatment in the Center:
“A team consisting of social workers, a psychologist, a lawyer, and everyone else, makes decisions in every case. Our obligation is to foresee tragic situations and do whatever the rules of the profession require in order to avoid them, but some cases truly cannot be predicted. ”
Gordana Daniel from the Croatian Social Workers’ Association reminded of the difference between professional and administrative oversight. The first is carried out by the profession and various measures are possible, up until revoking the license. Daniel stressed that one social worker leads hundreds of cases: “Social workers are doing everything by the law, and sometimes in very short terms and under enormous pressure, because they make decisions about other people’s lives. When something like this happens, then our entire profession, which is dedicated to humanism, justice and helping, is suffering. The question arises whether anyone understands what the social workers are doing and what they actually need? ”
We are all responsible for children
Ella Selak Bagarić from the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb warns that when something like what happened at Pag happens, everyone is trying to find the answer to the wrong question and focuses on guilt:
“Institutions shouldn’t concern themselves with guilt, we have to focus on responsibility. Every citizen in contact with a child is responsible for that child. Why? Because it takes a lot of courage from the people in child’s surrounding to get the information for us that the child might be in danger.”
Other guests remarked that sometimes adults wonder if they are making a mistake if they report something. Selak Bagarić points out: “It is the responsibility of an adult who wants to help a child to report suspicion. Then we in the system can check what’s going on. The center has the ability to ‘enter’ the family, check what is going on and continue to refer, take the child away from the family for a while, if necessary. But the Center cannot do anything unless it has the right information. ”
The work of social workers is filled with challenges
Daniel reminded that social workers should understand and even lead social changes and are called to take preventive measures: “That includes working in the local community and pooling resources to raise the quality of life in the local community. This requires both knowledge and additional resources. People in the system are ready to learn, but the question is can they do that and do they have time for it in current working conditions and the community? ”
And what does their work include? “Experiences from the field show many demanding situations. There is often no cellphone connection, there is an untethered dog in the yard, and you are entering a house with no idea of what you are going to find. We work with sick people, with demanding clients. Social workers are often attacked, but we do not write about it. ”
Ella Selak Bagarić from the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb concluded that it takes a lot of courage and going by the book: “Of course, there will always be someone who isn’t satisfied but we always have to keep in mind what we are doing. Our job is to protect the rights of the child. We ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and child’s rights are above parents’ rights”.