About 22 percent of children in the Czech Republic are victims or witnesses of violence in the family. At the same time, in the Czech Republic there is no guaranteed procedure or sensitive way of help that should reach the children, and there is also a lack of legislative background. On November 1, the director of the Locika Center, Petra Wünschová, said this before the start of the Help for Child Victims Under One Roof conference in the Chamber of Deputies.
“A large number of children who ask for help end up in institutional care, for example, or these children do not get help at all and end up in psychiatric hospitals, educational institutions, etc.,” said Petra Wünsch. She drew attention to the fact that in the Czech Republic there is a high tolerance for violence in close relationships and a very low number of detected cases. “No wonder kids don’t ask for help so little,” added the director.
In Prague, Locika has been running the first advocacy center for children who have become victims of domestic violence for more than a year. The facility offers spaces for questioning, examination or therapy in one place. Various professionals, especially social workers, doctors, police officers, psychologists, prosecutors and therapists, who deal with the case of a child victim, work together to help.
The importance of interdisciplinary cooperation was emphasized not only by Petra Wünschová, but also by the vice-chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bragi Gudbrandsson. “An abused child is a very vulnerable victim, he needs interdisciplinary intervention,” he said. He pointed out that if the child is not interrogated professionally and sensitively, this can be reflected in the quality of his testimony, which is often the only evidence against the perpetrator.
According to representatives of Locika, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is currently working on an amendment to the Act on the Social and Legal Protection of Children, where it proposes the creation of a specialized type of mandate under which services for child victims of violence could be created, but the proposal does not address interdisciplinary cooperation.
The government’s representative for human rights, Klára Laurenčíková Šimáčková, added that in 1991, the Czech Republic undertook to observe the Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to her, however, it is necessary to improve guarantees of the safety of child victims as well as prevention.