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7 April 2020 | 15:50

Fight against violence in Eastern Europe: a first year of an effective program

Lutte contre la violence europe de l'est

Since January 2019, the BICE and five of its partners in Eastern Europe* have been developing a global program to fight violence against children, in particular of a sexual nature within the circle of trust (family, school, etc.). A three-year project. An Overview of the actions conducted during this first year.

Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine are the five countries to implement this program. Divided in two parts: prevention and support. “In order to eradicate this plague, we must raise the highest number of people’s awareness of the necessity to end violence against children, explain, promote a non-violent society… We must also enhance the quality of therapeutic and legal support for the child victim and his family, explains Diana Filatova, in charge of the program in this geographical area. In order to do this, we’ve planned actions tailored for each country.”

Raise awareness of the fight against violence

In Lithuania for example, a comic book made for elementary school students was created. Containing stories and exercises on the means to recognize violence, react and find help, it will be distributed soon. Among 300 students will be aware of this tool in 2020 and 2021. In Russia, during this first year, 170 children aged between 12 and 16 years old, victims or at risks of violence, benefited from individualized prevention sessions. In Lithuania, they put the emphasis on raising parents’ awareness, through, among others, the creation of an e-learning platform (www.pvcmokymai.lt). “It contains six hours of training divided in five modules. The advantage of this tool is that it allows to reach parents leaving in different regions of Lithuania, for whom information is less accessible than in Vilnius.” In 2019, 498 parents took this training course.

For a specialized and effective multidisciplinary support

The support afterwards. For this part, the BICE and its partners focus on strengthening professional skills and muldisciplinary cooperation. And that involves training. In 2019, 164 child protection professionals coming from 31 regions of Russia were trained in art therapy especially.  In Armenia, students were trained in social sciences and law on public policies, and in laws in force in their country. Also, they were trained in audition techniques for children victims of violence in Russia and Ukraine. “In Ukraine for example, to enhance multidisciplinary cooperation and the quality of interviews conducted in the audition room, created with our support at Odessa children’s hospital n°5, time for reflection and learning was organized for the team involved in its operation”, says Diana Filatova.

In Armenia, Ukraine and Russia, the NGO, partners of the BICE also provide psychological and legal support to children victims of violence. In the first two countries, this support is deployed in the long run. In Russia, the NGO Doctors to Children, offers emergency support at the Saint-Petersbourg children’s pediatric hospital n°5. Three consultations on average. Children needing a longer-term support are then reoriented to adapted services.

Support of children authors of violence in Georgia

In Georgia, in the framework of this program, the BICE and the NGO Public Health Foundation of Georgia are working on a method of a therapeutic support of children authors of sexual abuse. In other words, children with inappropriate and potentially dangerous sexualized behaviours for themselves and/or their entourage. “All the national authorities concerned have confirmed the necessity for such of a methodological guide. After its fulfillment, a training was conducted in late 2019 with child protection professionals. And 13 children were orientated to our partner’s team. 11 of them were victims of sexual abuse and were living in extreme precarity. Support is in progress.”

Finally, an important work of advocacy concerning the program’s five targeted countries was carried out throughout the first year. And this, with local, national and international authorities. (More information here). The whole activities will, of course, continue over the next two years.

*In Armenia, the NGO Arevamanuk ; in Georgia, the NGO Public Health Foundation  of Georgia ; in Lithuania, the NGO Children Support Centre ; in Russia, the NGO Doctors to Children ; and in Ukraine, the NGO Women’s Consortium of Ukraine. 

In numbers…

  • 739 child protection professionals were trained in various aspects of violence toward children. This ranges from the identification and reporting of violence to specific therapeutic support techniques for the child victim.
  • 112 members of multidisciplinary teams (including police officers) that participate in the audition of children victims or witnesses of violence were trained in good audition practices and multidisciplinary cooperation.
  • 730 children victims of different types of violence received multidisciplinary support.
  • At least 567 parents of the children were also supported.
  • 13 children with inappropriate sexualized behaviours beneficiated from therapeutic support.
  • 170 children victims or at risk of different types of violence enhance their abilities to prevent and report sexual abuse.
  • 13 children were auditioned in the new audition room supported by the program.
  • 515 parents participated in trainings to enhance their knowledge of sexual abuse towards children to prevent risks and help their children if needed.
  • 70 people (parents and professors) received a training to prevent bullying at school.
  • Actions of advocacy were conducted in all the program’s countries, as well as on the international stage to make a success of the partner’s work.