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Toward the Best Interest of the Child – the Children´s House: Multiagency and Interdisciplinary Approach to Child Sexual Abuse Bragi Guðbrandsson, Gen.

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Presentation on theme: "Toward the Best Interest of the Child – the Children´s House: Multiagency and Interdisciplinary Approach to Child Sexual Abuse Bragi Guðbrandsson, Gen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Toward the Best Interest of the Child – the Children´s House: Multiagency and Interdisciplinary Approach to Child Sexual Abuse Bragi Guðbrandsson, Gen. Director, The Gov. Agency for Child Protection, Iceland Save the Children, Copenhagen, October 2002

2 Outline The value of international cooperation The situation in Iceland prior to the Children´s House Research findings on child sexual abuse and intervention by the authorities Defaults in work procedures, lack of competence and violation of children´s rights Towards solutions: the missions of the Children´s House How does the Children´s House work? Positive experiences and issues of concern

3 Social awareness Stage of denial Stage of admittance Stage of recognition

4 International cooperation World Congress 1996 European Union Council of Europe Regional cooperation Children at risk in the Baltic states Childcentre.baltinfo.org

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7 A study on the prevalance/intervention of child sexual abuse in Iceland intervention in CSA by public agencies. data collected from the CPS, the Police, the Prosecution and the Courts. individual cases were studied and traced on different levels lessons learned

8 Number of cases Total number of cases 369 which involved 368 children Average of 123 cases a year.

9 Victims by sex During the three year period girls were 80,4% and boys 19,6% of alleged victims

10 Victims by age

11 Age of the offender

12 Did child know offender? Child knew offender21676,3% Child did not know offender186,4% Not known4917,3%

13 Duration of abuse One incident56,0% Few months16,7% A year or more17,9% Data missing9,5%

14 Tracing of cases Total number % CPS 28177% Police 17046% Prosecution 14640% Court cases 5114% Convictions 4913%

15 Tracing of cases cont.d Total number of cases369 CPS28177% Referred to police by CPS 8430%

16 Case assessment by CPS Substantiated cases51% Unsubstantiated cases32% Data missing/unknown18%

17 An Overview of the Findings: Procedural defaults Lack of coordination/cooperation between the different agencies involved; CPS, Police, Prosecution, Medical profession Lack of an interdisciplinary approach. Absence of appropriate guidelines in work practices Lack of personell with special training and specialization, especially in conducting investigative interviews

18 The Findings cont´d : Violation of the childs interests Investigation often generated painful experiences for the child victim

19 The Findings cont´d The child was subjected to: repeated interviews by many interviewers in different locations: dep. of social services, the police station, the hospital, private practice, the court etc. revictimisation –retraumatization discrepancies in disclosure lack of appropriate assessment, support and treatment for the child victim lack of counselling and support to the victims family

20 The preparation of the Children´s House – primary guidelines UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 3.1 In all action concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration

21 Multiagency Collaboration The Gov. Agency for Child Protection The State Police The State Prosecution The Police Dep. in Reykjavik The University Hospital – Dep. of Pediatrics and Dep. of child Psychiatry Association of the Directors of Local Social Services The Child Protection Services in Reykjavik

22 Missions of the Childrens House to facilitate collaboration and coordination of the CPS, Police, Prosecution and the Medical profession in the investigation of child sexual abuse to provide a child friendly setting for joint investigative interviews and medical examination to ensure professional implementation of investigative interviews

23 Missions of the Childrens House cont.d to ensure that the child victim and his/her family receives appropriate assessment, treatment and support to establish professional work practices and guidelines by interdisciplinary cooperation to enhance specialized knowledge on child sexual abuse and to mediate that knowledge as appropriate to professionals and the public alike

24 The creation of the Childrens House The Childrens Advocacy Model: Multiagency and interdisciplinary collaboration under one roof The preparation phase: awareness raising, training etc. The operation started 1 st of November 1998 Serves the whole country: instructions by the State Police Changes in the legal framework after eight months operation

25 Childrens House (Barnahus) Joint Investigative Interviews

26 Basic functions A: Investigative interviews The Joint Investigative Interview The Court Judge is in charge of the procedure The Prosecution The Police The CPS representative The Childs Legal Advocate The Defence The Alleged Offender(exceptional in reality)

27 Basic function A: The CPS preliminary interview At the request of the CPS Disclosure is absent or very weak/ambigous Offender has not been identified Offender is below the age of criminal responsibility(15 years)

28 Basic function A: Investigative Interviews The importance of a child friendly setting The specialised interviewer: a psychologist, a social worker, a criminologist The interview protocol(to avoid suggestibility and increase reliability) Specially designed interview room(closed circuit television) The video tape: used for different purposes: medical exams, assessment and therapy IT-link to the courthouse

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32 Childrens House (Barnahus) Medical Exams and Evaluation Joint Investigative Interviews

33 Basic function B: The Medical Examination At the request of the Police, the CPS, the Child or the Parents Implemented by experienced paediatrician and a gynaecologist A child friendly examination room The use of video-colposcope and it´s therapeutic value Anaesthetization exceptional

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35 Childrens House (Barnahus) Medical Exams and Evaluation Joint Investigative Interviews Victim Therapy Family Counselling/ Support

36 Basic function C: Victim therapy and family counselling The child and the non-offending parent(s) receive (legal) counselling immediately after the investigative interview Victim therapy can start soon after The videotaped child´s disclosure is used for initial assessment and treatment plan Cognitive-behavioural therapy – group therapy not yet established The therapist is most often important witness in court proceedings

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38 Childrens House (Barnahus) Medical Exams and Evaluation Joint Investigative Interviews Victim Therapy Family Counselling/ Support Education, Training and Research Networking Local/ National

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40 Almost four year experience : ServicesNumber of Children Average per year Investigative interviews Assessment/ Therapy Medical examination A. Statistical data November 1998 – October 2002

41 Investigative interviews: implementation Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4 Joint invest. interview CPS investigation Total

42 Almost four year experience: Signs of progress Efficient, professional and child – friendly work procedures and case management End to revictimization of the child victim Appropriate therapeutic services secured Mutual professional trust among the different agencies Assimilation of knowledge and experience Increased public awareness and confidence in the authorities

43 Almost four year experience: Problems in implementation Controversial changes in the legislation The principle of evidential immediacy The principle of adversarial procedure The Court Judges´ discretion: where and how to take the child witness statement if a specialised interviewer is applied


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