children firstTowards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey                                      ...
putting                                            children first                                            Impoverishmen...
Building upon progressof the Provincial Bar Associations now provide legal aid to children who are             made in upg...
children’s                                           thoughts                                           The official title...
Thirteen–year–old Cengiz                                                      from Samsun                                 ...
... a very                                             big team                                             The Government...
On behalf of MONE, Professor Nejat Birinci underlined the educational focus              State Minister Nimetof Children F...
my family                                             ... our future                                             A crucial...
fiermin Aksakal Vilday, Teacher, FACT Trainer“The goal is for parents to be better able to appreciate the fine details andn...
working                   together                   Sharing a common goal to improve child protection in Turkey, the dive...
what’shappening?The multi–layered structure of Children First is best demonstrated by thevariety of activities underway in...
children first                                                       What will Children First achieve?                    ...
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Chldren First Project in Turkey

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Children first english

  1. 1. children firstTowards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey Periodic Report, issue: 01/06 in this issue … • putting children first • children’s thoughts • a very big team • my family … our future • working togetherImproving child care and protection in Turkey March 2006
  2. 2. putting children first Impoverishment, exploitative labour, sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation are unfortunately typical gross child rights violations that millions of children face every day around the world. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was devised to protect children from such violations by ensuring that every action societies and families take on behalf of children is first and foremost in their best interests. Commitment to the CRC obliges signatory states to ensure that policy, legislation and services for children reflect the principles of the Convention and contribute to the creation of a protective environment that will ensure the healthy growth and development of every child. As the official title Towards Good Governance, Protection and Justice for Children in TurkeyUpgrading of the Juvenile demonstrates, Children First aims to help Turkey build a protectiveJustice System involved a environment for her children. The seed of Children First was planted in rehabilitation– based Turkey when the Government commenced harmonisation with international response to children in standards through the Upgrading of the Juvenile Justice System project with contact with the law that the support of the European Commission. both respects their rights and offers solutions that The Upgrading of the Juvenile Justice System project contributed to changes would help prevent them for children that were reflected in a new child protection law in 2005 — an reoffending important year for legislation on children in contact with the law in Turkey. The new code, along with amendments to the penal law, raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility from eleven years to twelve and significantly accelerated the judicial process for juveniles. Other important developments under the new legislation include: • specialised treatment for children in contact with the law; • numbers of courts specialised in handling cases involving children have been increased; • the introduction of an alternative sanction allowing probation for children in place of detention; • increased presence of social workers during the judicial process. The project also increased the capacities of all ministries and agencies concerned with the judicial process to protect children from abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence. The project involved the Ministry of Justice, the Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHÇEK), the Ministry of Interior, the Bar Association and the Youth Re–autonomy Foundation. Activities under the mantle of the project enhanced the capacities of members of the Child Rights Commissions in fifty–two Provincial Bar Associations, roughly four hundred personnel in Ministry of Justice institutions, two hundred and fifty specialists in forensic medicine, forty probation officers and increased the awareness of parliamentarians on issues related to juvenile justice. More legal assistance was provided to child victims of abuse and violence and also to children in contact with the law. Child Rights Commissions in fifty–two2 Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey
  3. 3. Building upon progressof the Provincial Bar Associations now provide legal aid to children who are made in upgrading thevictims of crime and who are otherwise in contact with the law. In general, the Juvenile Justice System,outreach capacity of the Child Rights Commissions was increased by 90 per Children First will focuscent. Regarding incidence of children in contact with the law since 2002: on prevention by working to reintegrate children• 67 per cent fewer children have been deprived of their liberty; with their families• 80 per cent fewer children are serving sentences in reformatories.Public awareness of the right of disadvantaged children to be protected fromviolence, abuse, neglect and exploitation — one of the cornerstones ofChildren First — has become more widespread and the media have begun totreat the issue with more sensitivity.Work with the Child Rights Commissions surpassed the expected results.Apart from supplying legal services to disadvantaged children, theCommissions have adopted a much stronger role in monitoring respect forchildren’s rights and they are currently in the process of establishingindependent monitoring units across Turkey that will be composed ofinter–sectoral groups of child protection experts.The current climate of political stability, economic growth and social andinstitutional change has created an unprecedented opportunity to fulfil thepromise of projects such as Upgrading the Juvenile Justice System in Turkeyand the Say Yes for Children campaign. Their success led to the SecretariatGeneral for EU Affairs (SGEU), the European Commission Delegation (ECD)and the Government of Turkey initiating the Towards Good Governance,Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey project or Children First whichthe Government will implement with technical support from UNICEF.Throughout the development of the project, both the Secretariat and the ECDprovided full support, guidance and commitment to the promotion andprotection of children’s rights.It is hoped that through Children First, Turkey will see a continuation of thework to improve juvenile justice and a change in child care and protectionthat should set the country firmly on the way to protecting and promotingthe rights of boys and girls and bring the country closer to the standards ofthe CRC and the EU.Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey 3
  4. 4. children’s thoughts The official title of the project, Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey, is clear in its meaning but it is difficult to remember easily and it was felt that something shorter was needed in order to attract popular attention. Everyone involved, from the project partners through to the general public and children themselves were consulted on the development of a short title and logo. SHÇEK, with the support of UNICEF, showed some ideas to participants at the Sixth Children’s Forum in November and asked the children for their first impressions at thisEflref: “It’s nice to see important step in the development of the project identity. a family in the picture” “It seems to me,” said twelve–year–old Eflref from Yalova, “that adults only ask our opinion, as children, at events like this. It’s nice to see a family in the picture — we need a good example of how they should behave with their children. Families should support their children.” Twelve–year–old Merve from I¤d›r said: “Adults need to listen to what children are saying. They shouldn’t ignore us just because we’re young. That’s why I like the picture of the little girl on her daddy’s shoulders — she looks as though she’s saying something and the rest of the family are not just listening to her — they’re paying attention!” Twelve–year–old fierife liked the idea of seeing a family as well: “it’s all about respecting our rights as children isn’t it? And I think that the most important rights are health and education. After that I think that children need to be protected from violence and war. I reckon that the Government can do a lot to protect us from these things but I suppose the best place to start protecting children is within the family.fierife: “I like the one “I like the one with the roof over their heads — isn’t thatwith a roof over their where a family belongs?” heads” Eleven–year–old Emine from Bitlis, twelve–year–old Ak›n from Mufl and fourteen–year–old Gurbet from fi›rnak preferred an image with more movement: “Like something is happening and there’s something to be excited about. Also the colours should be bright and strong.” Centre page: Emine, Zeynep and Gurbet: “More action shows something to be excited about”4 Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey
  5. 5. Thirteen–year–old Cengiz from Samsun suggested an umbrella over the family might suit,Cengiz: “An umbrella rather than a roof: “I’ve been Özge: “Maybe themeans shelter — you can living in an institution since I family could betake it anywhere” was two and I worry about closer together what will happen when I’m too then we couldold to stay there — will I be living on the street when I’m make themeighteen? That’s why I like the idea of an umbrella — like the bigger”roof it means shelter but you can take it anywhere with you.”Fifteen–year–old Özge from Bursa wanted to see something alittle bolder: “the figures are a bit hard to make out. This will be quite small sometimes, won’t it? So it might work better if we can bring the family closer together. Then we could make them bigger and easier to see if they’re on a badge or something.” Thirteen–year–old Ömer from Mardin said: “The important thing is that people get the message about child protection when they see this.” “Maybe we should have meetings like this more often where we can be heard — not just in Turkey but everywhere in the world.” Ömer: “The important thing is that people remember the message about child protection”Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey 5
  6. 6. ... a very big team The Government of Turkey’s new child protection project, begun in August 2005, was officially launched on the 20th January 2006 at the Hilton Hotel in Ankara. Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey or Children First, as it is known by its shorter title, will see the beginning of a change in child care and protection in Turkey where the rights Ambassador Hansjörg of all boys and girls — especially the most disadvantaged — will be upheld. Kretschmer, European Commission Children First is a broad ranging, multi–sectoral project involving the Delegation to Turkey Government, the European Commission, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), various NGOs, children and parents. The unprecedented scope of partners in Children First was reflected by the attendance of Abdülkadir Aksu, Minister of Interior; State Minister Nimet Çubukçu; Ambassador Hansjörg Kretschmer, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Turkey; Edmond McLoughney, UNICEF Representative in Turkey; Professor Nejat Birinci, Undersecretary of MONE; ‹smail Bar›fl, General Director of SHÇEK and Judge Ekrem Bak›r, Deputy General Director of Prisons, Reformatories and Detention Centres — all of whom delivered keynote speeches introducing the project. The launch was also attended by Head of the Turkish Bar Association, Özdemir Özok as well as various government agencies, NGOs and academics. Minister of Interior, Abdülkadir Aksu welcomed the inception of Children First, saying that “it is the responsibility of both the state and its various ministries working closely together with NGOs and other concerned agencies, and of course the families themselves to protect all children and to ensure that they have access to education, good health care, nourishment and a protective environment.” Abdülkadir Aksu, Minister of Interior In the words of State Minister Nimet Çubukçu, “We are a very very big team, working together for a common cause — the best of all causes — a better future for children and their families everywhere in Turkey which is without a doubt the best possible future for Turkey herself.” Commenting from the perspective of the European Union’s core values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Hansjörg Kretschmer expressed his hope that Children First: “would help bring legislation in Turkey closer to EU policy on child care and protection and the standards of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)”. Mr Kretschmer stressed that “respect for children’s rights means protection from abuse and exploitation everywhere”. Speaking on UNICEF’s technical involvement in Children First, Edmond McLoughney said that the project would “increase opportunities for children everywhere in Turkey by improving policies and programmes, improving systems of care and protection and addressing issues of abuse and neglect which no child should experience”. McLoughney highlighted the project’s focus on reducing disparity both within the family and the country as a Edmond McLoughney, whole, saying that: “every individual in Turkey should have the opportunity UNICEF Representative to be healthy, well nourished, well educated, protected, living in a nurturing in Turkey family environment and able to participate in community and family life”.6 Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey
  7. 7. On behalf of MONE, Professor Nejat Birinci underlined the educational focus State Minister Nimetof Children First, noting that “education is the first step towards developing Çubukçu, UNICEF Childour gifts and talents as individuals” and proceeded to stress that “our role as Protection Officer, Bürgeparents is essential to our children’s future happiness and productivity and Hayran and Programmethat we should imbue them with the love for knowledge that only the Coordinator, Lila Pietersexample of our patient understanding and faith in their ability as individualscan achieve.”Speaking of the objective of Children First to reduce institutionalisation ofchildren without parental care, General Director of SHÇEK, ‹smail Bar›fl madethe point that: “We are including every child in Turkey with Children First —whether they are living with their families, in institutions or on the streets ofour towns and cities — and we aim to protect them from violence and abuseboth on the street and wherever they may live and also to prepare themphysically and psychologically for a better future.“Children First is a real first for Turkey and her children.”Speaking for the justice system, Judge Ekrem Bak›r observed that “the judicialsystem can only benefit by a comprehensive understanding of those it judgesand that we should relish the prospect of a judiciary that is better equippedwith the necessary tools to respect the child’s lack of maturity when he or shecomes into contact with the law and to make allowances as such.”In a vehement speech advocating for a more rounded understanding of ‹smail Bar›fl, Generalchildren’s rights, Judge Bak›r pointed to the fact that “only by Director of the Socialprotecting the child’s rights as an individual from birth can Services and Childsociety effectively reduce the likelihood that the child will not Protection Agencycome into contact with the law and take practical steps toavoid the possibility.”Pop star Do¤ufl, an ardent advocate of children’sissues especially children living and/or working on thestreet, said that: “I believe that any issue concerningany child is important and I am here to support thisendeavour to the very end. Today marks an importantstart for children in Turkey. I’m deeply moved by theparticipation of the various ministries and agenciessuch as UNICEF in this event and I hope that we canmake just as good a finish in the end and make a realdifference for children in Turkey — whatever their situation,whether they be rich or poor.”Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey 7
  8. 8. my family ... our future A crucial element of the Children First project strategy is to develop a comprehensive range of child–sensitive models for services related to children and one approach to achieving this focuses on the family unit itself. The Family and Child Training (FACT) Programme has been re–configured as My Family–FACT with the aim of reaching a third of parents and care–givers, especially in poor urban and remote rural areas, and training them in positive child–rearing practices. During one of the first Master Training sessions in Mersin at the end of Safiye fiahin: “Educating October, a group of FACT trainers from various project provinces were children within the family provided with extra training and teaching material aimed at improvinghelps reduce many typical education for families with children under six years of age. conflict situations” Safiye fiahin, Teacher, Sar›yer Public Education Centre, ‹stanbul “We had training in family education before but this has been a shorter, more compact and topical exercise. Previously the focus was primarily on the mother but now the role of father is also taken into account since we have found that it is much better to look at the family as a unit. Educating children within the family helps reduce many typical conflict situations. The mother’s traditionally protective role towards the children can sometimes create an odd kind of tension within the family where the father is alienated but this method unites all of the family members in mutual understanding.” Zahide Gözüayd›n, Teacher, Mersin Public Education Centre “This new training is especially useful for low–income and disadvantaged families but it can be easily applied to any family regardless of background or income. Although most parents attending our public education centre are fiermin Aksakal Vilday: mothers, we are very keen to “Parents will be better encourage the involvementable to appreciate the fine of fathers. That way it would details and needs of their be much easier to balance child from one stage of parental awareness of the development to another” protective environment between both parents. “The mother’s position within the family also becomes stronger as her lines of Zahide Gözüayd›n: communication with her husband are “Although most parents strengthened. The parents are better able to attending our courses are provide support for each other and of course mothers, we are very the children can only benefit from their enriched keen to encourage the relationship at the same time.” involvement of fathers”8 Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey
  9. 9. fiermin Aksakal Vilday, Teacher, FACT Trainer“The goal is for parents to be better able to appreciate the fine details andneeds of their child from one stage of development to another. When parentsrealise the differences in these stages, they can take the necessary steps tomeet the child’s needs. Parents feel generally stronger, more competent andrather less helpless and confused because they know what to do when itcomes to improving a child’s health, nutrition and development.“Individuals who know how better to look after their personal needs and theneeds of those closest to them contribute to a stronger, more stable andunderstanding community structure. When parents are able to moderatetheir behaviour for the sake of their children, there is a ripple effectthroughout their community and society at large.”Ümmühan Acar, Teacher, Alanya Public Education Centre“This training is very important because it is aimed at parents of childrenunder six years of age — a very sensitive stage of their development in everyrespect. I plan to go from house to house, letting parents know what thetraining is about and that it is available for them to take part at their localpublic education centre. Already we have a number of regular attendees atour centre and I’m hoping that we can reach a greater number of families Ümmühan Acar: “This isthrough these people — by word of mouth, so to speak.” a great way to show parents how they canNihayet Uçlu, Teacher, Antalya Public Education Centre really help their children”“Family training is very much concerned with the general education anddevelopment of society at the same time. So the My Family–FACTProgramme will have a concrete effect on societal development in the future.It is quite possible for us, as parents, to have a negative influence on ourchildren without necessarily raising a hand to them in violence — there aremany subtle ways in which we can hamper a child’s development withoutbeing aware of what we are doing.“It is an unfortunate truth about human nature that some of our most natural behaviour or responses to our children can be damaging to them. So I’m very happy to be taking part in this training seminar both as a mother because I am more confident about my future relations with my children and also as a teacher because I look forward to sharing what I have learned with other trainers and other parents.” fiehzade Polat, Teacher, Yozgat Public Education Nihayet Uçlu: “It’s quite Centre possible to have a “By teaching the parents negative influence on our about problem–solving in children without raising a human relationships and hand to them in violence” behaviour, we are equipping them with the tools to help their children resolve their own problems and issues in a fiehzade Polat: “Fathers forthright and independent manner without and mothers will be having to resort to external agencies such as equipped to provide a counsellors, teachers, community leaders. At more protective the same time, both fathers and mothers will be environment for their equipped to provide a more protective children” environment for their children.”Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey 9
  10. 10. working together Sharing a common goal to improve child protection in Turkey, the diverse group of representatives from Government Ministries, NGOs and academics that make up the Children First project management team share an equally diverse range of abilities and experience. A crucial step in reaching the ultimate goal of Children First was to look at the working relationship between the various sectors and ensure the success of the project by developing the individual strengths of those involved into an effective team. In order to achieve this synergy, a three–day workshop was organised in K›z›lcahamam near Ankara in November for twenty participants from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of National Education, the Social Services and Child Protection Agency, the Gendarmerie, the Security General Directorate and the Turkish Bar Association. The workshop, based around the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, sought to provide a foundation for strengthening individual performance at the personal, interpersonal, managerial and organisational levels by equipping team members with the tools and skills to work at optimum levels of effectiveness — both as a group and individually. Using a combination of talks, video presentations, personal and group exercises, the workshop developed over its three–day course under the following themes: • Be proactive by taking the initiative, keeping commitments, being responsible, accountable and exerting a positive influence on results. • Begin with the end in mind by developing vision, establishing the mission, setting goals, aligning goals to mission priorities and focusing on outcomes. • Put first things first by following strategy, focusing on important priorities, defining tasks to achieve goals, prioritising tasks and using planning tools. • Think positively and improve working relationships, collaborate effectively, resolve conflicts and make positive performance agreements. • Seek first to understand and then to be understood through persuasive communication, defusing tense situations, listening effectively and provide productive input and feedback. • Synergise by making positive use of diversity, working together creatively on problems, valuing differences and developing innovative solutions. • Sharpen the saw by practicing continuous improvement and self–renewal. The workshop was generally considered a success by all who were involved since the opportunity for participants to work together personally provided a strong and productive start for the project. Practical exercises around the development of Children First communication materials were of immediate benefit in developing the project identity and promotional literature that was used to launch the project.10 Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey
  11. 11. what’shappening?The multi–layered structure of Children First is best demonstrated by thevariety of activities underway in support of the project goal of improvingchild care and protection in Turkey.Early Childhood DevelopmentRevision of the Family and Child Training (FACT) package, now called MyFamily, has been completed and is currently being piloted with a view tonationwide expansion following assessment later in the year. MONE andSHÇEK received training in the package during the latter half of 2005.Recruitment of an international consultant to oversee new pre–schooleducation curriculum and communication tools is underway.Parenting for 7–19 year–oldsUNICEF recruited a team to oversee development of a parenting programmefor older children and adolescents in January. A consultative group ofexperts and NGOs will provide technical advice and support to the team asthey develop the package.EducationResearch on catch–up education will shortly begin at the national level todetermine the distribution of children who are out of school in terms of age,gender, socio–economic background of family, and institutions responsible fortheir well–being. The study will also measure the knowledge, skills and attitudelevels of the children.Catch–up education is in preparation — MONE has begun work in Februaryon the implementation model following an “Information and Experience”meeting in Ankara in January. At the meeting, government officials, NGOs,academics and international speakers convened to draft principles anddiscuss the best means to develop and implement catch–up education inTurkey. The principles will be used as a guide by MONE.Child ProtectionUNICEF has begun recruitment for a team of 7 national and 5 internationalconsultants who will do research to improve policy making and help bringabout legislative and institutional changes in support of child protection.A workshop aimed at strengthening the skills and capacity of the Judiciary todeal with children with specific problems such as drug abuse and angermanagement is planned for early March.A coordination, evaluation and planning meeting on the subject ofstrengthening the juvenile justice system was held in December involving theMinistry of Justice General Directorate of Prisons, administrators from 22Ministry of Justice Institutions and representatives from 18 Provincial Bars.The meeting provided a forum to strengthen communication andcoordination between administrators of institutions and lawyers.A meeting with parliamentarians regarding draft legislation on institutionalisationof children and monitoring children’s rights is planned for early March.Children First: Towards Good Governance, Justice and Protection for Children in Turkey 11
  12. 12. children first What will Children First achieve? Through Children First, Turkey is committed to ensuring that the protective rights of all boys and girls are fully met. Children First will reinforce institutional responses to the increasing incidence of child abuse, neglect and deprivation of parental care with systematic research, monitoring and data collection, preventive measures and more policies and legislation in favour of child protection by: • increasing the capacity of professionals working in child justice and protection to promote and protect children’s rights; • establishing alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution for children in contact with the law; Print Yorum Matbaa • giving children who are outside of the education system a second chance to catch up; • promoting gender equality at all levels of society; • reducing the worst forms of child labour; • establishing preventive mechanisms, including family mediation and alternative models of care and protection; • promoting caring, family environments rather than institutional Design placements for children who are not living with their parents or caregivers; • establishing minimum standards of care and protection for children who are living in institutions and in foster care; • increasing the life–skills capacity of adolescents so that they enjoy their rights and are aware of how to protect themselves. The success of Children First will contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially the goal of section VI of the Millennium Declaration on protecting the vulnerable, and also support implementation of reforms in the area of children’s rights that will bring Turkey closer to full compliance with the standards of the CRC and the EU.This project is implemented by the Government of Turkey with financial support from the European Union and technical support from UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund

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