MISS7: „Where Were We When the Perpetrator Was 5, 8 or 13 Years Old“

Mia Roje, psychologist from the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb wrote a commentary for MissMama portal on how to protect children, what are the consequences of violence and can we stop it:

„Unfortunately, violence is, and will always be, present. Modern society brings some new challenges and stressors along with it and people may break under pressure easier than before. Also, violence is everywhere around us, on every cover and in every media in the virtual world. We are offered violent heroes, violence is often glorified and written about in a sensationalist way and it is no surprise that people are increasingly desensitized to violence, it becomes increasingly crueler because we lack empathy as a society. Child protection implies prevention and early intervention as well as the systematic responsibility of all of us – families, educators, teachers, social welfare systems, healthcare and so on.

No child becomes violent overnight. We often point fingers and ask ourselves whose fault is it, instead of asking where were we when the perpetrator of violence was 5, 8 or 13 years old, when he, for example, swore at other children, and adults laughed and waved it off. It would be bold to say that we can prevent any act of escalating violence, but we can certainly prevent a large number of them if we truly watch and listen to the children, if we don’t turn away from their suffering, don’t close our eyes and ears when we see something is wrong. This is especially true for emotional violence that is equally painful as physical, but you can’t see the bruises. I cannot imagine that any case of an emotionally abused child would attract this much media and public attention. Anyone who notices violence against children or suspects that something inappropriate is happening to a child is required to report suspicions to the Social Welfare Center and / or the police. So, it is not expected that neighbors act as detectives and they don’t have to be sure that there is violence, they only have to draw attention to the family if they have any doubts. They can also do it anonymously.

Violence against children, especially by parents, who should be a safe harbor and source of love for the child, leaves significant and damaging consequences. Media labeling and sensationalism can only underscore the feeling of shame and victim exposure. This can be treated through long and intensive treatment, but also with support from all other adults involved. First and foremost, it is urgent to consider what decision is best for the children in order to preserve their objective security. ”


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