Over 150 experts from 10 countries, including the Executive director of the Cedar Foundation, participated in a 2-day regional convention “Smart investments in strategies and partnerships to prevent and address violence against children” in Sofia.
The forum was opened by the Social Minister Bisser Petkov, Jane Muita – representative of UNICEF – Bulgaria, Skender Syla, representative of WHO – Bulgaria and representatives of civil society organizations.
During the event, Alexandrina Dimitrova participated in a workgroup, dedicated to dealing with violence against children. She shared the organization’s experience in supporting child victims, accommodated in residential services in the context of deinstitutionalization. Alexandrina also talked about the growing need of turning the family-type homes in a specialized service with a highly qualified team, who will be able to look after the specific needs of these children.
The discussion produced recommendations for making the position “social worker” a more prestigious one; improving the interaction between the different systems – social, educational, health, justice; increasing the social sensitivity on the subject of violence against children and drawing associates. There were more good practices introduced in the group by Bulgaria and Croatia. Furthermore, opportunities and challenges in the child victim support were discussed.
From the subjects that were presented at the event, it became clear that violence against children has lasting economic consequences, as the costs are between 1 to 4% of the countries’ GDP. Hence it would be economically beneficial for every country to invest in prevention by providing quality universal services for the children and their families. Experts shared that a positive and healthy relationship with an adult is what might help the child victim to overcome the trauma and prevent the risk of further violence. The topic of child participation was also covered as a good practice of the Cedar Foundation. It was presented by a poster in a photo exhibition of the Know-how center of alternative care for children at NBU.
The representatives at the convention raised all major problems and called for creating policies for fight and prevention of violence, and uniting the institutions and citizens.