The Seventh Annual Conference "Let's Grow Together" and Let's Grow Together Plus" was held in Zagreb on 17 and 18 March 2017, with 250 participants from all over Croatia, who have been working with parents in this programme. Sc.D. Bruna Profaca, psychologist of the Centre, participated with the invited lecture "Pitfalls for Parents: Risks and Support Opportunities" in which she presented possible risks, as well as protective factors in the relationship parent-child and positive parenting.
Journalist Katarina Maric Banja writes in “Slobodna Dalmacija” from Sunday 17 June 2018 about the public response of experts from the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb who oppose the proposed amendments to the Ordinance to the Rules on the procedure during the forcible seizure and surrender of a child:
“Without going into any particular case, experts of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, who meet daily with high-conflict divorce, believe that the proposed amendments to the Ordinance can not be in the favor of children and their well-being, but can serve as additional weapons to their parents in their conflict. It was told us by prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, director of the Center.
Employees of Center had the need to respond during the consultation on the proposed amendments to the Ordinance to the Rules on the procedure during the forcible seizure and surrender of a child. The changes would allow the surrendering of a child to be deferred in spite of the legally binding court decisions, which would confirm the situation that occurred in illegal way – the kidnapping of a child.
Likewise, the intention is that the planned changes relate to cases that are already in progress so that every parent who illegally took the child from another parent and managed to delay the child’s return for a year has the opportunity to enact his proceedings. That is why these changes were colloquially referred to as “lex Cesare”, in the case of the boy (8) from Split, who was taken from Italy to Croatia when he was a year and a half years old and his father still failed to return home. The decision to surrender a child to his father is legally binding from 2012.
In its public commentary on the site e-Consulting employees of the Zagreb Center led to believe that that proposal changes actually an additional risk factor for the safety and welfare of children that would set out rules supposed to protect. They have proposed that amendments and additions to the regulations should not be accepted at all.
– Every day I meet with children who for years know not to see the other parent and that they become completely merged with the parent with whom they live. The system knows misinterpreted this as the best interest of the child and that looks like child desires. I believe, together with my colleagues to make this ordinance was another powerful weapon in mutual struggle of parents, and actually harms the child and his mental health. Abuse of Article 12 of the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights, which states that children have the right to their own opinion about everything that concerns them.
It happens, in fact, the situation that the child adopts the opinion of the parent from whom it lives and takes it as their own. Anyone who knows anything about alienation from the other parent will say that it is his or her will and desire. However, an expert is needed to identify is this opinion that the child is claimed by manipulative parents and if this opinion in accordance with its interests. Simply described, the child may express a desire to live with his father because he allows it to play games all night, and the question is whether his desire is in his best interest. Changes to the Regulations are sending a message: one year do not allow the execution of binding judge decision and the child will stay with the parent who forcefully took him – explains professor Buljan Flander.
– If the environment threatening for a child, each additional day spent in the middle of the toxic environment for a child means a growing risk of negative outcomes for the well-being and mental health of the child. By staying in an environment that is threatening, child do not “coalesce with the environment” (as stated in the proposed changes to the existing Regulations), but “coalesce” with manipulative parent. Manipulative parent thus gets time-worn and deepens its damaging impact on the child, which actually reduces the probability of successful implementation of a measure that has already been considered necessary for the safety and healthy development of the child – the Center employees said in their opinion.
Besides them, the public comment reacted and the Association of Judges for youth, family judges and experts on children and young people, who have announced they will contest this by-law to the Constitutional Court. Underneath their comment, Lana Peto Kujundzic, PhD, President, and Marina Parać Garma, Vice-President were signed.
In their opinion sharply cut down the proposed changes and, among other things, stated:
“With this amendment sends a clear and very direct message not only manipulative and abusive parents, but all parents and all the other people you will, as required by amending the proposal, “the child to live and / or lives”, that is only needed for a long time to keep the non-legal taken the child and the system will recognize it as the right to a child over time. This proposed ordinance is contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Constitution and the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights, Strasbourg, 1996, as it allows to be rewarded holder of parental care who lives with the child, usually to manipulate because the child lives with him, which is contrary to a legally valid court decision that established the best interest of the child. ”