The following article is from a media release to The Seattle Lesbian on Tuesday, November 14, 2017.
The launch of the nationwide campaign against the sexual abuse of children was held in Athens, on Monday, November 13, 2017 at the premises of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece and attracted great interest and participation from key actors involved in the field. The campaign is organized by The Smile of the Child and takes place under the aegis of His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos and with the support of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece.
The Smile of the Child opened the debate of the issue of “Sexual Abuse of Children” with the participation of prosecutors, Minors’ Investigative Magistrates, Professors of Judicial Psychiatry, Directors and Heads of Social Services, Children’s Hospitals, representatives of primary and secondary Education, from the Hellenic Police and specifically from the Cybercrime Unit and Missing Persons’ Unit, the President of Athens Bar Association, representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other competent actors and agencies.
All the participants agreed on the need for immediate measures to strengthen the prevention of and tackling of cases of sexual abuse, a phenomenon which occurs next to us and requires courage, continued effort and good practices to be dealt with effectively.
The President of the The Smile of the Child, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos underscored: “Through the campaign ‘It remains a Secret’ we open the discussion on the issue of sexual abuse of children. This is an issue that torments Greek society for many years. However, over the recent years the sexual abuse has grown in extent not only in Greece, but also elsewhere and has been recognized in our country and internationally as a public health issue. This campaign will offer us the opportunity to work together with the institutional actors involved and come up with common proposals from across Greece, mobilize state authorities and tackle the problem. At the same time, we work relentlessly to strengthen the level of prevention of in and outside the school communities and empower our children with knowledge. We struggle for the ideal result, but we serve what is feasible in order to protect children and avoid their further victimization”.
The aim of the meeting was to develop a set of concrete proposals and empower already existing ones put forward by The Smile of the Child in an effort to strengthen the prevention of and tackling of cases of sexual abuse of children.
The results and conclusions drawn from this campaign will be presented on the 11th of December to His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos along with specific proposals in dealing with the issue.
In the framework of this nationwide campaign, The Smile of the Child submitted for further discussion and elaboration the following proposals:
1. The institutionalization of sexual education in primary schools with the goal of providing proper information to children and, at the other hand, raising awareness on all these issues that children should refuse, suspect and ask for help and assistance in the cases they feel threatened.
2. Development of specialized Centers in Greece where a specialized scientific team will take care for each child victim. In these Centers children will testify to trained interviewers in a unified manner, only once and in a safe and fully protective environment. Competent professionals (prosecutorial authorities, Hellenic Police, social services, services of mental and physical health).
3. Strict limitation to the services involved to call a child victim to an additional testimony -interviews before or after the abovementioned single and unified testimony with the goal to avoid any secondary and further victimization of the children victims and any discouragement of potential victims to report.
4. Institutionalized development of a unified authority that will register the cases and nature of sexual abuse of children.
5. Development of therapeutic Centers for children victims of sexual abuse.
6. Training to professionals for the effective tackling of each case of sexual abuse (police officers, prosecutors, teachers, health professionals, social services).
7. Requirement of CLEAN criminal record as a prerequisite for the recruitment of professionals to public and private actors who come in direct contact with children. This certificate should be renewed annually.
8. Facilitation of legal procedures. The cases of sexual abuse of children are lengthy and as a result children-victims usually experience a procedure with detrimental consequences for them.
In the framework of the campaign, similar meetings will take place in various cities across Greece: Patras (14/11), Larisa (16/11), Chalkida (27/11), Heraklion (28/11), Chania (29/11), Tripoli (4/12), and Thessaloniki (8/12). The meetings will be held with the support of the local Municipalities.