Director Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, Ph.D., participated on July 9th, 2019 in show Otvoreno on the topic of violence in society, and the occasion of the murder of a social worker Blaženka Poplašen and the wounding of her colleague lawyer, in Đakovo by the beneficiary of the Social Welfare Center. On the same day, a four-year-old girl passed away at KBC Rijeka after being left by her father inside a closed car in the heat. In Zagreb, a mother and a nanny of a two-year-old boy were detained by the police on suspicion of child abuse. Could these tragedies have been prevented? Who failed? The system, the society or everyone? HRT Magazine brings a preview of the show, which you can watch in its entirety at the video link:

The guests in show Otvoreno, by Editor Zrinka Grancarić were:

Nada Murganić, Minister for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy
Štefica Karačić, President of the Croatian Association of Social Workers
Lana Petö Kujundžić, a youth judge at the Zagreb County Court
Gordana Buljan Flander, director of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb
Helenca Pirnat Dragičević, the Ombudsperson for children

Social workers are often faced with threats, but should this have happened in Đakovo?

– Social workers are as successful as they are with the support of other constituents in society, and I will include the media here. There were many who had to act much earlier to avoid this. The perpetrator of the horrific crime is a sick person, however, we are under the impression that the person who helped him most and who was killed, was in fact his daily therapist and counselor. The fears he had at night, she managed to calm down every time. But not this time. Could only the welfare system solve such a complex problem? When we talk about these topics, I would love it if we expanded it a bit. We also have preschools, pediatrics, we have primary care doctors, psychiatrists, said Minister Nada Murganić.

– We’ve been talking about the same topic for years. The cooperation is not very good. No family can be protected unless the system is connected. Also, the social climate is such that the profession is not respected. Political elites do not respect the profession. Experts who really work are called out, and those who say they will not work with the system, they will not be called out because of their indifference, said Gordana Buljan Flander, Director of the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb.

The president of the Croatian Association of Social Workers, Štefica Karačić, points out that the atmosphere in our society in recent months has become such that social workers are to blame for everything that is happening in society.

– Social workers are doing a very hard and responsible job. It is a profession of high risk and stress. They are not laics, they are not charitable helpers, but experts. We have our value. We are efficient, it cannot be said that we are not efficient enough. We work with around half a million Croatian citizens, and we have done great things for them. I appeal to our users to publicly support us. We need a change in social awareness. It is not really fair that social workers are being presented “like clay pigeons”.

She added that they had received information, in connection with the Đakovo case, that the killer was asking around about purchasing a gun. They forwarded this information to the competent services, but there was no reaction, Karačić added.

 County Court Judge Lana Petö Kujundžić pointed out that a large number of crimes can be prevented if they are responded to appropriately.

– Without connecting the system we can’t do anything. A social worker cannot be some kind of worker on the ice. Our social workers have too few opportunities to be super-specialists in their field. A social worker spends most of their work doing administrative part. This should be done by someone who has a high school diploma, not by professionals.

As for child abuse, Ombudsperson Helenca Pirnat Dragičević says the real figures are even worse than those publicly available.

– The whole society is responsible for protecting children from violence. This is about the health care system, education, the judiciary … We see an opportunity for improvement in those systems which the child is in contact with daily. By that I mean kindergartens, educational institutions. Experts should be working with them. They need to respond on time, alert to the follow-up of another service. These should be places for prevention.

Nada Murganić added that the proposal would include a proposal for social workers to receive official status, all for the purpose of self-protection.

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