As of this year, the chairmanship of the Expert Group and the presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States became synced.
Priorities and mandate
A new priority and mandate for the Expert Group for was adopted in November 2011, which included:
- The protection of children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse;
- Ensuring the rights of children in migration and the protection of children that are trafficked;
- Early intervention and prevention as a means to ensuring children’s rights to protection from all forms of abuse, violence and neglect;
- The rights of children in residential care and in other forms of out of home care.
Strategic national consultations
The Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour organised a strategic discussion on the role of the regional cooperation on children at risk with national stakeholders including NGOs and state agencies in its Child Welfare Council. The Head of Children’s Unit was invited to this discussion. The Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Russia similarly organised two stakeholder events discussing the regional cooperation and how this can best be made use of in Russia. The Head of Children’s Unit was invited to these meetings.
The conference Early Childhood Intervention – Getting in touch, Establishing Relationships, Developing Structures was held in Berlin 12-13 September 2011.
A focus for the German presidency was early intervention, particularly on intervention methods targeting families with infant children considered to be at risk. The conference aimed to to enhance the professional exchange between international experts and practitioners working in the field of Early Childhood Intervention. Key questions explored at the conference included:
- How to make contact with families with infants and small children?
- How to evaluate risks of infants and small children?
- What kind of support do troubled parents need?
- What should support structures for troubled parents look like?
- What do quality standards look like? How far is the development of quality standards?
The conference was organised in cooperation with the German Kinderschutz-Zentren, the German Federal Ministry of Families, Senior Citizens Women and Youth and the CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk. A follow-up meeting was planned.
Children at Risk in the Context of Child Welfare
The Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour organised this conference in May 2012 in cooperation with the Expert Group.
ROBERT Risk-Taking Online Behaviour
The work of the ROBERT project was presented at the final conference of the project. Held in Berlin 23-24 May 2012, the conference invited 120 experts from all over Europe, and was opened by Ambassador Gerhard Almer representing the German presidency of the CBSS. Partners in the ROBERT project discussed the continuation of the work, looking into how children may be more at risk from the diverse online platforms used, using ROBERT as a basis for continued knowledge enhancement in this field. The outcomes from the conference fed into the finalization of the reports.
A workshop on a the emergence of ‘sexting’ and challenges for parents and young people was organised by the Expert Group in cooperation with NSPCC and the Austrian Safer Internet Centre as part of the Safer Internet Forum in October 2011 in Luxembourg.
Children trafficked for the purpose of exploitation in begging and in criminality
The Norwegian Trafficking in Children: A Criminal Act Calling for a Child Protection Response conference was followed-up by the Expert Group by initiating a project project where prosecutors, police, child protection workers and NGO experts investigated how four countries in the region, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden, met the challenges of this form of exploitation of children. The project was co-funded by the Swedish Institute.
The project to elaborate a system based audit for child welfare facilities and to pilot the training was well under way at this time.
Expert group meetings
The Expert Group met twice in Berlin during the year: The first meeting on 13-14 September 2011, back-to-back with the conference on early prevention. The second on 15-16 March 2012. Part of the second meeting was a joint meeting with the CBSS Task Force Against Trafficking in Human Beings, TF THB.
A twitter account for the Expert Group and Children at Risk Unit @childatrisk was established.