BRIS Report 2009

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BRIS Report 2009

  1. 1. •-The BRIS report2009• (Children are unbeatable!)
  2. 2. For many, blaming themselves is a way of explaining the violence theyBRIS Offices are subjected to.Riksförbundet BRIS(National Association)Karlavägen 121SE-115 26 StockholmTel: +46 (0)8-598 888 00Fax: +46 (0)8-598 888 01E-mail: info@bris.seBRIS region Nord(Northern Region)Kungsgatan 36SE-903 25 UmeåTel: +46 (0)90-203 65 10Fax: +46 (0)90-203 65 11E-mail: bris.nord@bris.seBRIS region Väst(Western Region)Hvitfeldtsgatan 14SE-411 20 GöteborgTel: +46 (0)31-750 11 30 bris – Children’s rights in society – is an ngo, a voluntary organisation with no party political or religious affiliation, which supports children and young people in distress and is a link Content between children, adults and the community. This BRIS report is not a translation of the entire Swedish report. With regard to thisFax: +46 (0)31-750 11 31E-mail: bris.vast@bris.se year’s theme and the expected readers, we have chosen to translate the articles The core of bris’ activities is comprised of the Children’s Helpline, bris- concerning abuse, communication with children and international efforts.BRIS region Mitt(Central Region) mail and the bris-chat, to which children and young people up to theKarlavägen 121 age of 18 can turn anonymously and free-of-charge when they needSE-115 26 StockholmTel: +46 (0)8-598 888 10 support from an adult. bris also works as an opinion maker and referralFax: +46 (0)8-598 888 11 organisation to increase adults’ respect for children as individuals. brisE-mail: bris.mitt@bris.se works for the full application of the principles established in the unBRIS region Syd(Southern Region) Convention of the rights of the Child. bris uses its collective knowledge of the situation of children and young people to inform, influence and 4 2009 is an important year 21 Adults’ responsibility to dare to see abuseÖstra Rönneholms- for BRISvägen 7 create opinion in children’s rights issues at various levels. bris also 24 BRIS’ Discussion Forum – an oasis 7 Courage &SE-211 47 MalmöTel: +46 (0)40-690 80 70 accepts calls from adults who need someone to talk to about their ownFax: +46 (0)40-690 80 71 or other’s children. strength in the in the middle of theE-mail: bris.syd@bris.se contact with darkness bris was founded in 1971 and is organised as one national and five regional BRIS 26 InternationalBRIS region Öst(Eastern Region) offices. These are located in Malmö, Göteborg, Norrköping, stockholmKorsgatan 2, Hus E and Umeå. bris’ activities are based on volunteer work and financial CooperationSE-602 33 NorrköpingPostal address:SE-601 86 Norrköping grants and donations from both private and public donors. bris has a total of about 600 volunteer workers who man the Children’s Helpline, 10 Shield that obstructs help provides guidance for the futureTel: +46 (0)11-440 05 50Fax: +46 (0)11-440 05 51 bris-mail and the bris-chat. These volunteers are recruited, trained and supervised by employed bris personnel. The bris Adult Helpline – about 15 Talking – a firstE-mail: bris.ost@bris.se Children is usually manned by employed bris representatives and costs step towards as much as a regular phone call. change The Children’s Helpline The BRIS-mail, The BRIS-chat, – for those up to age 18. 0200-230 230 Foras www.bris.se 18 The forgotten children Monday to Friday: 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm The BRIS-mail provides per- Saturday, Sunday and holidays: sonal answers within a few 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm days. The BRIS-Chat provides real BRIS Adult Helpline time 1-to-1-chat. – about Children In the Discussion Forum, Publisher BRIS, Barnens Rätt I Editor Cecilia Nauclér/Peter Irgens Illustrations Lena Sjöberg/Söderberg 077-150 50 50 which is also on BRIS.se, Samhället (Children’s Rights In Society) Art director Helena Lunding Agentur, Yusuke Nagano Monday to Friday: children and young people Address BRIS-tidningen, Karlavägen Text Maja Aase, Mette Hultgren, Responsible editor Göran Harnesk, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm can communicate with each 121, SE-115 26 Stockholm, Sweden Cecilia Nauclér, Gunnar Sandelin and Secretary General, BRIS other under the oversight of Editorial committee Cecilia Nauclér, Åsa Wallentin an adult moderator. Jenny Ingårda, Peter Irgens, Karin English translation Semantix tel +46(8)-598 888 00 www.bris.se Johansson, Thomas Jonsland, Eva Photo Johan Bergling, Martin PG 901504-1 Stenelund and Eva Waltré Magntorn, Anna Rehnberg
  3. 3. text Cecilia Naucler photo Anna Rehnberg Thanks to the children’s and young people’s child contacts, the bris-mail for 36.7% and the accounts, bris can also provide decision-makers bris-chat for 3.7%. with information about what the children them- The number of e-mails to bris decreased selves seek from the adult world to be able to somewhat during the year compared with the change a difficult living situation. previous year, while the number of supportive bris’ objective is also to provide professio- calls through the Children’s Helpline increased nals and other adults with guidance in how they and the submissions posted should act to be able to help and support victimi- on the bris Forum doubled 2009 I LOVE BRIS!! YOU MEAN SO sed children, based on the needs of the children in 2008. Furthermore, the MUCH TO ME! I DON’T KNOW and young people. Therefore, we publish the bris number of attempts to call WHAT I WOULD DO IF I DIDN’T HAVE SOMEONE TO TALK TO. report and we hope that it will provide the in- the Children’s Helpline in- ALL LOVE AND RESPECT TO ALL sight into the world of children and young people creased by 29%. The bris- OF YOU WONDERFUL PEOPLE AT necessary for the adult world to react and want chat, where children and BRIS WHO DO SUCH A FAN- TASTIC JOB! :D to change. young people can chat direc- (From “Say what you think!” tly with bris, started in 2007 on bris.se) 2008 as a pilot project and became is an important in 2008, bris had 21,848 documented suppor- a permanent channel in bris’ tive contacts with children and young people support services for children and young people from the Children’s Helpline, the bris-mail and in autumn 2008. in light of its brief period of year for BRIS the bris-chat. This was an increase of 2% com- pared with 2007. in terms of percentages, the Children’s Helpline accounted for 59.6% of the operation, a remarkably high proportion of children and young people have contacted bris through the bris-chat. The 20 most common contact Number % of % of 2007 % % % Gender distribution in topics of 2008 of child child child Children’s BRIS- BRIS- child contacts 2008 contacts contacts contacts Helpline chat mail Girls/Boys – 77/23 F Friends 4 981 22,8% 19% 22,2% 28,2% 23,2% Average age in or nearly 40 years, bris has worked for Fear/anxiety 4 424 20,2% 18,9% 16,1% 22,8% child contacts 2008 children to have a better life and their needs Family conflicts 4 146 19,0% 21% 18,1% 20,0% 20,3% 14,3 years to be met based on the child’s own perspec- School 3 540 16,2% 7,5% 18,0% 18,9% 13,1% tive. An incredibly important part of these efforts Love 3 397 15,5% 15% 14,3% 12,9% 17,8% was bris’ lobbying efforts for legislation against Loneliness 3 168 14,5% 14% 13,6% 17,0% 15,7% corporal punishment, a goal that was fulfilled in Bullying 3 008 13,8% 14% 17,2% 10,9% 8,5% 1979 when sweden became the first country in Existential/life issues 2 038 9,3% 9,9% 8,5% 7,0% 10,5% the world to ban violence against children. Other mental illness 2 010 9,2% 12% 6,1% 12,4% 14,3% However, even though using violence against Sorrow 1 977 9% 7,8% 8,9% 10,1% 9,1% children has been banned in sweden for 30 ye- Physical abuse 1 857 8,5% 7,5% 10,5% 6,6% 5,5% ars, children and young people still contact bris Identity development 1 826 8,4% 8,1% 6,8% 5,7% 11,1% because they have been abused. in 2008, 8.5% Sex 1 798 8,2% 6,4% 8,5% 2,4% 7,6% Suicide/thoughts of suicide 1 736 7,9% 9,3% 5,8% 10,7% 11,9% of the contacts concerned physical abuse and ne- Living arrangements 1 611 7,4% 6,6% 8,1% 7,7% 6,2% The Swedish ban on corporal punishment is arly 4% were about psychological abuse. Conse- Because every Body/appearance 1 584 7,3% 7.0% 6,1% 5,8% 9,3% call/e-mail/chat celebrating its 30th anniversary and the UN quently, bris is continuing its efforts against vio- can deal with more Self-destructiveness 1 541 7,1% 9,1% 4,4% 12,9% 10,7% lence against children and this work, combined than one topic Convention on the Rights of the Child is celebrating Divorced parents 1 464 6,7% 4,3% 7,2% 7,5% 5,8% and all of these are with the 30th anniversary of the ban on corporal Sexual abuse/molestation 1 423 6,5% 6,2% 7,6% 7,5% 4,6% documented, the its 20th anniversary. Both are extremely important punishment, means that the bris report 2009 total percentage Stress 1 293 5,9% 5,2% 5,3% 8,1% 6,8% to BRIS, in part because BRIS was involved in the will largely focus on physical and psychological n=21 848 n=21 401 n=13 014 n=805 n=8 029 exceeds 100%. creation of the ban on corporal punishment and in abuse. Supportive, documented child contacts However, the corporal punishment ban is not part because the UN Convention on the Rights of 1999-2008 the year’s only anniversary, 20 years have also Year BHT BM BC BK the Child is an important guide for us in our work for passed since the adoption of the un Convention 1999 14 341 14 341 The child’s living conditions Nuclear family 54,5% children’s rights. However, the major question is if the on the rights of the Child, which is also an im- 2000 17 431 608 18 039 Lone mother 15,4% corporal punishment ban and the UN Convention portant guide in bris’ efforts to strengthen the 2001 17 150 2 208 19 358 Both parents alternately 8,7% rights of children in society. Under the Conven- 2002 18 348 4 675 23 023 Lone father 6,9% on the Rights of the Child today give children and 2003 16 008 6 036 22 044 tion, the best interests of the child shall always Step family 5,9% young people the protection they are intended to go first. However, reality often differs from that 2004 14 450 7 683 22 133 Own housing 2,0% 2005 10 778 8 459 19 237 Fosterhome1,6% give. Consequently, BRIS has chosen to focus the BRIS stated in the rules of the Convention, and our 2006 11 588 9 685 21 273 Treatment centre or equivalent 1,2% Report 2009 on these anniversaries, based on what contacts with children and young people show 2007 11 551 9 797 53 21 401 Other 3,8% that society all too often fails in providing child- 2008 13 014 8 029 805 21 848 children and young people say themselves. ren and young people the support they are entit- led to under the Convention. BK Child contacts bris has conducted an in-depth analysis of BHT Children’s Helpline BM The BRIS-mail BC The BRIS-chat2009 • the BRIS report 4 5 the BRIS report • 2009
  4. 4. physical abuse text Cecilia Nauclér the un convention on the photo Johan Bergling rights of the child Most children who contact BRIS because they are abused by one or both parents. The abuse takes place in the home, which makes it difficult to discover. The children still love their parents and the fear of being placed in a foster home or nobody believing what they have experienced makes it difficult for the children to tell and seek help. CouRAGe Article 19, §1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, &STReNGTH administrative, social and educational measures to protect the in the contact with BRIS child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while “F in the care of parent(s), legal rom the child contacts i have studied, consciousness; they are locked in guardian(s) or any other person many live with a constant fear of be- the cellar, or are sprayed with hot ing beaten. For some, this fear is based water. who has the care of the child. on not knowing if it will happen again, others The child is often also live knowing that mum or dad will drink at the insulted verbally during the weekend and then i will be beaten,” says Andreas abuse, being called a whore Thander, bris representative. or hearing that “nobody Andreas Thander and Jenny ingårda, Project loves you” or “you are com- Coordinator at bris, conducted an in-depth re- pletely worthless”. view of parts of bris’ documentation of the child The abuse takes place in contacts concerning physical abuse in 2008, the home and the father is comprising slightly more than 300 calls and e- commonly the abuser. it also mails each. happens that both parents are “There is no pattern to the abuse, it can occur perpetrators or that the mother, whenever, on any day of the week and the child a step-father or a boyfriend is the can never feel safe,” says Jenny ingårda. abuser. The one parent also often The violence the children and young people knows that the other is abusive, are subjected to can be described as ranging but chooses not to say or from routine everyday violence, where they are do anything. beaten with objects such as belts, canes or fists, “For the child, to more torture-like violence. some children say this is a sig- that they are shaken and beaten until they lose nal that the2009 • the BRIS report 6 7 the BRIS report • 2009
  5. 5. physical abuse physical abuse CONVERSATIONS MAKE A dIFFERENCE parent that hits him or her is not doing anyth- “When i read the children’s accounts, it became the person that he or she is talking with at bris ing wrong, which makes it difficult for the child clear how alone they feel they are. They have diffi- will make a report, because this is most often to seek help although he or she feels that the culty in seeing a way out, and ultimately become not what the child wants to happen. instead he abuse cannot be right,” says Jenny ingårda. their own counsellor,” says Andreas Thander. or she wants to tell about his or her situation Outside the walls of the home, the vast majo- as a first step, Jenny ingårda explains. Many Tries to understand rity are silent. One of the reasons hesitate to contact their school counsellor or in many cases, a large part of For many, that children do not tell is the another adult, because they have heard stories of the abused children’s life is spent blaming fear of what would happen with what can happen if they do. trying to understand what is hap- their siblings if they did. some “For example, the child may have a friend pening. For many, blaming them- themselves is a take on the abuse so that others who has told the school counsellor about his or selves is a way of explaining the way of explaining in the family will not be beaten her situation and the counsellor has in turn con- violence they are subjected to. the violence they and reason that “it won’t get bet- tacted the parents, which has led to the friend’s “A child said in a call to bris ter if i tell, at least now it’s only situation becoming worse. The conversation ‘now i understand why dad hits are subjected to. me being hit”. may also have led to the friend being placed in me, because he said that he doesn’t “Others have been threatened a foster home, and this is not what the child love me’,” says Andreas Thander. with being placed in foster homes if they tell. be- contacting bris wants. it is too large a step,” she The children speak of parents with problems cause it would mean that they could not see their says. with alcohol or substance abuse, parents with siblings, it results in the child doing everything However, what the child wants is to tell an psychological problems or parents under a great to keep the family together,” explains Jenny in- adult that can handle listening to the story and deal of stress. “For example, the family may have gårda. the entire conversation. They want the adults to financial troubles because of unemployment, continue to ask, continue to be inquisitive, even which affects the entire family,” continues Jenny Not taken seriously though the child might be crying. For the child, ingårda. “Adults who would not usually think of some of the children have tried to tell an adult it is not important to find an adult who can set “dad pushed a rag in my hitting their children also end up in situations they know about the abuse. This can be a family everything right, but rather to be believed. sister’s mouth and beat her “My dad has hit me my that they cannot control. A great deal of frustra- member or an adult outside the family. However, until she confessed” entire life. I’ve told some tion and anger spills over onto the children.” the children have not been believed or taken se- Conversations make a difference adults I know, but they don’t “i remember that dad hit me believe me. When my mates “The children still love their parents and de- riously, which has led to the children’s attempts “The conversation has nearly a magical effect on a so hard in my stomach and ask how I’m doing, I can’t be fend the parents if an outsider says something to find more help from other adults have been child who has not previously had the opportunity that i got so scared that i wet bothered to explain, so I lie negative about them.” cut short. to tell,” says Andreas Thander. myself. Since i was 6, he’s hit and say that everything is me, pushed me up against OK. Otherwise it will just get The children and young people try to handle “The children are naturally disappointed, silent “Neither we nor the the wall and everything” even worse, says mum.” their living situation in different ways. some of and dejected by nobody listening. Yet, they still child know for sure the children react to the violence by seeking con- continue to hope that somebody will discover The Internet what will happen if “I don’t have the strength to “They will just start an investi- stant affirmation from adults. They try to “be the that they feel bad, that someone will ask and has become a the child chooses to be silent any more, I have to tell somebody. Dealing with gation that will certainly make things worse.” best children possible so that their parents can care,” explains Andreas Thander. tool where you can be tell, but together, we everything I’ve experienced be proud of them” as Jenny ingårda expresses For many children who contact bris is hard on my own.” “Hate to be with dad when anonymous and meet can look for different he’s drinking, I’m scared. He it. some devote all their energy to school work about abuse, the call or e-mail is ways to go to find sup- since they receive recognition and obtain peace the first step towards change. others in the same port and help,” he ex- “I wish that I dared to tell so- hits me and my sister when he’s drunk, which is often.” and quiet. For some, a comforting pet can be a The vast majority have wai- situation. plains. meone, but it’s not easy, the tears come the whole time. “Now I know why dad hits lifeline, while others become aggressive and act ted a long time to get in if the child wants I’ve got so many hard things me. Because when he’s out. For many, the internet has become a way to touch with bris and have it, a bris representative can call the social servi- to deal with” drunk he has said that he handle their sorrow. often thought about a so- ces in the child’s home municipality to find out doesn’t love me.” “I don’t want dad “The internet has become a tool where you can lution themselves. Con- what steps they would take if the child chooses to hit me any more. “I do things I be anonymous and meet others in the same situa- tacting bris is taking to tell about the abuse. Then the child can digest I just want a normal shouldn’t with tion. On the internet, you can find comfort and the first step to ma- the consequences that telling will entail before dad. Sometimes, myself, but I can’t he’s really nice, but handle it any more. encourage others,” says Jenny ingårda. king the family secret going further. just a little while I’ve cut myself Not everyone manages to have the strength public, a step that is so Even though the children are often in very ago he hit me.” although I don’t needed to keep up in school or to build friend- large that it first has to vulnerable and serious situations, there is still an actually want to. “He’s hit me my Now, it feels as if I ships. The bruises are hidden with clothes and by be tested with somebody enormous strength and hope there. The mere fact entire childhood. just want to die.” not participating in physical education at school. the child can be that children are so brave that they dare contact Whenever, but Anxiety is deadened by hurting themselves in dif- a n o n y m o u s bris is something that both Andreas Thander mostly when I “I hold my hands disagree. He has under hot water ferent ways. Many lie about what their situation with. and Jenny ingårda are in awe of. a poor vocabulary and to avoid the tears and the is like to their friends and never take their friends The child “some children have talked with both their cannot defend himself when anxiety.” home, since they do not know what it will be like need not be school counsellor and the social services, but no- we argue. When he feels like he’s in a weak position, he “Although I love dad, I’m at home from day to day. afraid that thing has happened. Yet, they do not give up, but hits me.” afraid of going home. I saw ring us and ask us to mediate their needs. These when my little sister was bea- children have an unbelievable strength that is “Mum says that I’m not ten by dad and have since Physical abuse loveable and hits me when then had a lump in my belly. beyond the usual,” Jenny ingårda confirms. she’s down herself” Do you think it can happen 4In 2008, 1,857 child contacts with BRIS concerned physical abuse. This was 8.5% of all contacts, a minor increase from last year. 2009 • the BRIS report 8 9 the BRIS report • 2009
  6. 6. physical abuse physical abuse When victimised children and young people seek help, a shield often arises that 4 From the dIscussIon Forum makes it more difficult and prevents the child from getting the help that he or she needs. One way to get around the problem is to ask the right questions and listen Main submission to the child’s account carefully. Hi, I’m abused by my parents and social services refused text Mette Hultgren to do anything about it when Johan Bergling cus of previous investigations or who have heard the parents. Here, the professional must get the I told. I’m abused by some SHIELD photo guys at school too. I’m tired about the mandatory reporting from friends. child’s help to provide a guide as to whether one of it and cut myself to feel should call home to the parents or not. better, but it doesn’t work… Contradicting pictures “A great deal that is intended to help is done I’m gonna kill myself soon if I don’t end up at a foster Like the children, the parents often feel shame over the child’s head. it is very unpleasant for the home cause if somebody over not managing the parental role and there- child who feels that he or she loses control over talks to my parents they don’t fore acting to protect the family secret. The pa- what will happen,” says Karin Johansson. care, they like couldn’t be bothered and get more and rents can contribute to the shield by explaining she believes that a lack of experience and more aggressive and hit me how reality looks from a perspective completely knowledge are underlying factors, that the per- more and more what am I different from the child’s. Often, one wants to son who is to help the child finds it difficult to un- gonna do? is there nobody that can take me from my fa- hide the difficulties that exist in a family. in their derstand that the child may have a difficult time. mily?? or do i have to kill my- contacts with bris, several children say that they Moreover, the view of the child’s situation can self before they understand feel that their parents distort the truth and are often be obscured by the parents’ description. that it’s serious?? or end up at hospital??please write !! nice, for example, to the social workers. some that obstructs help children say that they do not dare tell the social services or child psychiatric services about their situation because of threats or pressure from their Language gets in the way Another obstacle is that the person meant to help the child does not always understand how serious parents. it is once the child has tried to describe his or her “At home, the child often hears that what hap- living situation in his or her own words. pens at home should stay within the family. some “The child feels that he or she has told what it is parents directly threaten beatings or restricted like, but that it has not been perceived as being so I n BRIS’ contacts with children and young rights if the child tells an outsider about what serious by the helper. For example, some children A great deal that is people, it becomes apparent that there are various happens in the home,” says Karin Johansson. can say that “mum is mean” or “dad is angry”. obstacles, kind of a shield between the child and intended to help is done sometimes the children indicate that they Mean or angry can describe just about any parent, the person he or she is seeking help from that makes over the child’s head. It feel that the parent and helper are on the same but the words may conceal a form of very serious it more difficult, obstructs or reduces the possibilities is very unpleasant for the child side, leaving the child on the outside, which also victimisation,” says Karin Johansson. of giving the right help. The child, the person meant who feels that he or she loses builds up obstacles that make it difficult for the she emphasizes that the obstructing shield to help and the parents all contribute to building up child to dare to tell. looks roughly the same regardless of the type of this shield in different ways. control over what will happen. in contacts with bris, several children also say victimisation involved. Overcoming the obsta- Response “All children, just like adults, feel a natural resis- that they have not had the opportunity to talk in cles demands both that those who are to help the Hey Sweetie. How awful, I’m crying that you should have tance to seeking help and talking about a vulnerable private with the social worker at social services or children are aware of the various obstacles and to have it like this, yeah, it’s existence. but when the children need to seek help, the counsellor at child psychiatric services, for ex- that they also have tools that they can use. true, I would like to be by your they often feel that they are not being listened to ample, and have therefore not dared to tell about “i think, for example, that one needs to have side and protect you from your parents. You are valua- or believed,” says Karin Johansson, investigator at the real situation since the parents are present at an interview template and a battery of follow-up ble, attractive, meaningful, bris. the meeting. questions. such a template could, for example, be wonderful and beautiful. Talk in addition, they often feel shame over the situa- formulated by the National board of Health and to the counsellor. DON’T KILL YOURSELF!!! Best wishes tion they find themselves in. Many children think Betrayed trust Welfare to cover all areas of victimisation to be Response that it is difficult to talk about their situation when relatively often, children say that they feel let simply marked off and it could be linked to a bat- Hi there. Firstly, if you are abu- they sit face-to-face with a person they do not know down or betrayed by school counsellors, school tery of follow-up questions. The important part is sed, the social services are or have not had time to build up trust in. Part of the nurses or teachers who sometimes contact the that one cannot assume to know what the child’s obliged to report it to the po- lice. If they refuse to, make a reason for this lack of trust lies in the child knowing parents after conversations with the child. situation is like, but instead must ask questions to report yourself. Please, don’t about the social services Act’s mandatory reporting, “Those who should help the children to a cer- obtain an impression of the situation,” says Karin cut yourself, I stopped about which exists to protect children in distress. tain extent have the duty of creating a working Johansson. 4-6 months ago and haven’t tried cutting myself since. It “but this requirement that one should immediately alliance with the parents to be able to help the Children want to be asked questions, especi- only helps for a little while, it report if one suspects that a child is in distress some- child. As long as a contact, for example, with ally when it concerns difficult situations. doesn’t help the problem. times leads to not having time to build up trust and child psychiatric services is based on being vo- “Children feel safe when one as an adult shows The problem won’t solve itself, you have to do something a stable relationship before a report is made. And it luntary, the parent has a choice to participate or that this is not difficult for me to talk about. An about it and want to solve it. may often mainly be a supportive contact that the not. Therefore, the relationship to the parent is adult that asks questions makes it easier for the Lots a hugs child wants,” says Karin Johansson. also important to the person helping,” she says. children. You can’t just sit quietly and nod. if you Consequently, several children say that they kno- However, for the children, it can be a virtual do, children feel very uncomfortable,” she says. wingly withhold some of the awful things they are disaster when they cannot rely on what they say subjected to with the aim of being able to keep the staying with the person they tell. school counsel- contact with the person they have sought help from. lors and others often find it difficult to understand it is often a question of children who have been the fo- that they can really cause problems by contacting 2009 • the BRIS report 10 11 the BRIS report • 2009
  7. 7. Article 3, §1.In all actions concerning children,whether undertaken by public or privatesocial welfare institutions, courts of law,administrative authorities or legislativebodies, the best interests of the child shallbe a primary consideration.the un convention onthe rights of the child2009 • the BRIS report 12 13 the BRIS report • 2009
  8. 8. physical abuse the un convention on the rights of the child text photo Mette Hultgren Johan Bergling How should a child subjected to violence and abuse be able to continue? Professional help plays an important role, not instead of talking with an adult close to the child, but rather in addition to it, responds BRIS representative Petter Iwarsson. Regular talks with an adult are often uncommon and much underrated. Article 12, §1. States Parties shall Talking – a first step towards change assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all “I n general , when people ask for help, the child being afraid of being punished if he or matters affecting the child, the whether children or adults, we want a chan- she tells, worry about betraying his or her family views of the child being given due ge, but we do not know what we should do or concern that the conversation will not help, to make the change,” says Petter iwarsson, bris that it will not lead to the situation improving. weight in accordance with the age representative. Petter iwarsson describes it as a sort of wishful and maturity of the child. “i also think that children and young people thinking; the child wants help at the same time possibly send different signals than we adults that nobody should find out what his or her situa- do when they need help,” he continues. tion is like. As time goes by, however, the child Petter iwarsson believes that to be able often reaches the insight that the situation sel- to help and support children and young dom or never gets better by just doing nothing. people, adults above all have to create opp- The bubble of loneliness that the child lives in ortunities for children to tell in their own has to burst. way, and at their own pace. “i think that one of the first steps toward help is “some children who turn to bris have almost always putting one’s situation into words very serious problems, while others have together with an adult who has the courage to problems that are large for them, but take in the account.” where one as an adult does Aaron Antonovsky, Professor of Medical so- not get as worried. For ex- ciology from the U.s., believed that people need ample, “help, i’ve never to make difficulties understandable to be able had a boyfriend” or to manage them. He developed the salutogenic “help, i want to fall theory, which involves focusing the conversation in love”. To know on the factors that give people good health – in- how we should be telligibility, manageability and meaningfulness. able to offer support, “Many of the children who contact bris de- we need to create scribe a lack of understanding of what is happe- environments where ning in the family. “My mum drinks, can i make children can talk.” her stop?” They lack the intelligibility. Nor do Many children with the children know how they will be able to take serious problems wait a the next step, or what help is available, they are long time before asking missing the manageability. And many children for help. There are many lack the meaningfulness – they do not believe it reasons for this, such as can get better.”2009 • the BRIS report 14 15 the BRIS report • 2009
  9. 9. physical abuse the un convention on the rights of the child Petter iwarsson believes that these three parts clarify the adult’s task. Adults can help the child- ren understand both their emotions and their context – create intelligibility. They can seek the child’s internal and external resources and there- by illustrate manageability and convey the hope of change being possible – create meaningfulness. “Adults can contribute intelligibility, manageabi- lity and meaningfulness, which is no minor ac- hievement,” continues Petter iwarsson. “These three components are a basis for pro- viding the children with tools to take the next step, which can be done in the relationship with an adult, such as in the conversation with bris or with a teacher. Ordinary talks with an adult are uncommon and much underrated.” it may be difficult to see how a child that is being abused could find manageability in being beaten. Petter iwarsson emphasizes that this manageability is not about the child staying in a harmful situation, rather the opposite. being able to understand what is happening, understanding oneself and one’s context and thereby creating in- Article 39. States Parties shall take telligibility, manageability and meaningfulness all appropriate measures to promote is incredibly important for a child’s self-esteem. physical and psychological recovery Especially since children subjected to violence and abuse blame themselves. and social reintegration of a “The perpetrator also blames the child, which child victim of: any form of makes the child doubly victimised.” These tools are not only an aid for the children, neglect, exploitation, or abuse; they are also a support for the adult the child torture or any other form of is talking with, regardless of whether the person works professionally with children, is a youth cruel, inhuman or degrading recreation leader or a parent. because, Petter treatment or punishment; iwarsson emphasizes, a prerequisite for the adult or armed conflicts. Such to dare to be present in the meeting with the child and dare to listen is that the adult feels secure and recovery and reintegration knows that he or she has something to contribute Many of the children who shall take place in an to the conversation. Consequently, the adult conversational part- contact BRIS describe a lack environment which fosters ner does not always need to be a trained therapist of understanding of what is the health, self-respect and or psychologist. The importance of people close happening in the family. dignity of the child. to the child, such as friends, teachers, youth re- creation leaders or parents, is also often under- rated, he feels. They can provide warmth and af- firmation, which is a prerequisite for a change to be possible. However, for children and families with serious problems to be able to achieve long- term, functional change, the help of professionals is also needed. “The job of the therapist or a psychologist in- cludes taking in the child’s account and placing it in a larger context, which is often perceived as li- berating for the child. but as i’ve said before, not as a replacement, but as a complement. All of us adults, regardless of the context we find ourselves in, are important. We cannot forget this.” 2009 • the BRIS report 16 17 the BRIS report • 2009

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