In Italy about 100,000* children and adolescents are taken into the care of social services because they have been victims of some form of maltreatment.

In particular physical, emotional and educational neglect make up the first form of maltreatment in the country.

Even though ever more people are becoming aware of how widespread mistreatment is, child maltreatment is today still a hidden phenomenon, not brought to the attention of the authorities, and underestimated. Cesvi, which has always been involved in the struggle against violence to children and adolescents through child protection projects, has decided to act in Italy with a national program for preventing and combating child maltreatment.

The aim of the project is to support, reinforce and expand the services already provided by partners in the country to increase the capacity for prevention, identification and intervention in cases of maltreatment.

Our action takes two directions: on one hand it reinforces the resources available to children and their families, on the other it makes a positive impact on the surrounding environment and community.

Three territories have been chosen as the areas of action for the first year of the project: the city and province of Bergamo, the social district of the consortium of towns in the lower Sabine area – with coordination between Rome and Rieti –, and the VII borough of the Naples administration. The work is carried out in partnership respectively with the Cooperative Consortium FA, the association “Bambini nel Tempo” and the cooperative “Il Grillo Parlante”.

The project initiatives respond to the needs identified locally through the following steps:

Creation of spaces where children and adolescents in vulnerable situations can be listened to

The “listening posts” provide a place and a time for meeting, sharing experiences, externalising personal experiences and emotions, accessing information and examining and discussing the theme of rights in depth. These are positive conversations that increase a child’s ability for self protection and help the operators to identify the risks of maltreatment and cases that have not come to light.

The putting in place of specialist action for the treatment of trauma

The process of psycho-therapeutic support aims to limit psychological and emotional damage in those children and adolescents who have been victims of violence.

Parenthood support

Often it is the parents who need help. Specific courses have been designed towards positive parenthood, which guide them to an understanding of the development stages in childhood, teach the importance of positive, non violent, educational and communication methods, and transmit practical tools for a correct handling of the parent-child relationship.

Training of professionals on the subject of maltreatment

The training courses strengthen the family and minors operator’s ability to identify and respond in the most appropriate way to cases of maltreatment.

Reinforcing the protective role of the community

The social context plays a fundamental role in contrasting child maltreatment. Hence the whole community is asked to help in limiting the phenomenon. To this end awareness campaigns are run to enhance social dialogue on the rights of children and on the prevention of violence.

*Source: Terre des Hommes, CISMAI (2013)
Photo Credits: Bazdar