World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse Marked on November 19

5 Dec, 2012

On November 19 the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) hosted the presentation of  a short documentary video clip, ‘This is What Children Think’  ,  which shows the attitude of 6-11-year-old children toward child abuse.

The exhibition and the presentation of the documentary were preceded by a 2-hour workshop for journalists.  The workshop was dedicated to the coverage of child abuse topics in line with the principles of ethics in order to avoid further moral injury of victims, their family members and relatives. The workshop was run by Ketevan Tavartkiladze, a psychologist of the Public Health and Medicine Development Fund of Georgia.

‘There may be different types of violence: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional maltreatment.  Child neglect and exploitation is also a form of violence.  The topics require a lot of public attention and development of systems and regulations for the protection of children from abuse.’- Margaret Lynch, a professor of London Kings College, considered these issues in Tbilisi with education specialists and teachers. Margaret Lynch visited Georgia by the end of October.  She had been invited by the OSGF East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program.

Protection of children from abuse comprises several stages/important components, which are closely related with each other.  These stages are: primary prevention, identification of the risk of violence /victim child, identification of violence (whether symptoms/signs have appeared as a result of abuse), punishing the assaulter and rehabilitation of the victim.  Several sectors, including the social sector, health protection, education, law enforcement bodies (police, the Prosecutor’s Office, court), share almost similar responsibility for these issues starting from primary prevention ended by victim rehabilitation/punishment of the assaulter.

Mere existence of the referral procedure is one of the key indicators for the evaluation of the child protection system in the country.

The referral process defines sequence for the involvement of the key sectors/professionals, obligations and responsibilities for the identification of violence in time; this is the system, telling us to whom – which service, specialist – when and how to apply to protect a child from abuse, to make the cooperation procedures consistent, timely and efficient, and most importantly, child-focused and friendly.

‘Georgia is ahead of its close neighbors – we have the procedure;  our procedure has a lot of gaps, including lack of focus on prevention (both primary and secondary); rehabilitation services do not exist at all; intra-sectoral cooperation processes (education, health care, police, social) should be defined better; the joint cooperation procedure should be improved etc.  A lot more should be done, which will take a lot of time to explain, while in certain cases a narrow professional approach is required’, says Lia Saralidze of the Public Health and Medicine Development Fund of Georgia.