The 19th ISPCAN International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect was held in Istanbul from 9 to 12 September 2012 with the theme of “Every Child Matters: Promoting Local, National and International Partnerships for Protecting Children” and aimed at discovering the best ways to integrate human resources to prevent, detect and effectively intervene with child abuse and neglect.
Recalling the recommendations of the United Nations Global Study on Violence Against Children (2006), the participants of the Congress representing governments, non-governmental organizations, networks and institutions, including professionals from different sectors and disciplines, children and adolescents from 77 countries;
- Reaffirm that prevention of child abuse and neglect is the biggest responsibility of the humankind to the children,
- Acknowledge that combatting child abuse and neglect requires multi-faceted strategies at the national, regional and global levels,
- Recognize that prevention of secondary victimization plays a key role in the combat against child abuse and neglect,
- Assert the need to prevent multiple administrative and multi-disciplinary interventions, avoidable time losses and non-specialized service provision.
The participants of the Congress are concerned that:
- Victims of abuse and neglect in many countries do not have access to a specialized reporting authority, but have to seek help from authorities, for example, police or prosecutor’s office, which are neither easily accessible nor suitable for their immediate needs;
- Children victims of abuse and neglect have to go through long, repeated and detrimental interviewing processes by various authorities not necessarily specialized in this area;
- Children should not have to go back to the same environment with the perpetrator after the case is reported;
- A significant portion of the child abuse and neglect cases may go un-acted upon due to low capacity in identification and assessment;
- Long assessment processes with multiple examinations result in delayed justice, deny victims effective protection measures and lead to distrust in the system.
The participants of the Congress welcome the efforts in different parts of the world to establish model mechanisms that include:
- A non-judicial and specialized reporting authority for cases of abuse and neglect;
- Reporting following a thorough assessment and preparation of the victims;
- Recording of the interviews with child victims in order to minimize the risk of multiple interviews and confrontation with the perpetrator;
- Forensic examination and reporting by a specialized team of professionals;
- Multi-disciplinary and coordinated examination, assessment and intervention to prevent secondary victimization.
The participants of the Congress urge that all interventions in cases of child abuse and neglect:
- Conform with the provisions set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments;
- Ensure best interests of the child;
- Prevent secondary victimization of children; and
- Are regularly monitored and improved.
The participants of the Congress call upon all Governments and related authorities to:
- Establish easily accessible, child friendly reporting mechanisms for cases of abuse and neglect that ensure a specialized and thorough assessment, thus protecting the best interests of the child;
- Establish multi-disciplinary child protection services which are provided according to an agreed plan for the child and family in order to prevent secondary victimization;
- Ensure that child protection services are accredited by an independent authority and equipped with specialized personnel with necessary knowledge and skills in identification, assessment and intervention in cases of child abuse and neglect, who are regularly mentored, supervised and monitored, and who work in settings that are child friendly;
- Ensure that the provision of services results in improved outcomes for the child.