On October 31st, 2018, the director of the Center, prof. dr.sc. Gordana Buljan Flander was a guest on a show “U svom filmu” (“In her movie”) with the show’s editor, Tončica Čeljuska . Here’s what the HRT released about the show:

“A guest of the show “U svom filmu” is prof.dr.sc. Gordan Buljan Flander, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, who has been for the last thirty years fighting for the child protection and their rights. She founded Brave Phone, which is twenty-one years old and has received more than 200,000 children’s calls during that time. She is the director of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, which is the world’s largest provider of best multidisciplinary practices and an example of working with children. This year she was proclaimed a woman of the year for her long-standing devotional work.

For years she has been pointing out that we must not turn our heads from child suffering, however, parents and society often do not react in the right way. “One of the reasons is that parents do not want to see children suffer, that way they feel better. The second reason is that if you see the children are suffering, then you have to do something “, she emphasized.

“Parents don’t want to see that they often cause that suffering. I do not know any parent who wants something bad for their child, but I know a lot of parents who have done something bad to their child, and I know a lot of experts who turned their head off of child suffering so they would not have to do anything “, said Buljan – Flander.

She said that parents know less each day about their children. One study showed that parents spend about ten minutes a day with their children. “Parents have to work a few jobs and children are left alone, and then we wonder why are our kids lost at sixteen. Parents need a support from society. They need to organize free activities for children. It was available before, but today you have to pay for everything”, she emphasized.

21 years ago, she founded the Brave Phone. At that time that was very progressive considering the society in which hitting a child was considered acceptable. She conducted a research in which she wanted to show how child abuse is not happening somewhere far away.

“The results showed that every fifth child in Croatia is sexually abused, and that 30 percent of the children are physically and emotionally abused. It was difficult at first, but It’s better today. Today children can come to the Center and besides that The Brave Phone has another line – a phone number for parents”, said Buljan Flander.

She noted that today there are no counseling centers like there used to be. There are psychologists in kindergartens, but in schools there is absolutely not enough of them. In schools, psychologists could help the teachers, and then healthcare would not have to do so much work. “We save on children but it will come back to us in the future. I think this is the area where we need to save the least, “she said.

There are some terrible stories. The story of a child in a high-conflict divorce, who lives years in the war zone, and whose parents do not even see him in the fight, and the system does not notice him and leaves him alone. Stories of sexually abused children are terrible, but society has after all become sensitive to them. “Children who are abused have a greater chance of becoming abusers than being victims. But not necessarily, “she emphasized.

She described how they use dogs for the purpose of therapy, especially with sexually abused children. “The dogs relax children and reduce their stress, and as stress is reduced, the child begins to talk more about their trauma. The dogs feel when child needs them” she said.

When asked what the award for the woman of the year meant to her, she said it was important to her that her work has been recognized, but even more that the society has changed so much that she received an award for it. “I’ve always known that I wanted to work with children and that is why I consider myself a happy person, because my wish came true”, she concluded.

You can watch the footage of the show here:https://youtu.be/AvnrUFIGI6Y

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