ESN’s CEO, Alfonso Montero, speaking at the Council of Europe (CoE) Working Group on responses to violence against children, acknowledged that proper reporting is key to combating child abuse and expressed the readiness of ESN to support the work of the Group in ensuring the applicability of the guidelines developed to the daily work of reporting services.

Proper reporting is fundamental if efforts to combat child abuse are to be successful. This was a central point made by European Social Network (ESN)’s CEO, Alfonso Montero during his speech to the meeting of the CoE Working Group on responses to violence against children. Mr Montero stressed that European recommendations on reporting violence against children would only be effective if implementable by local public social services.

“Even the best recommendations for effective reporting of violence against children will remain a dead letter if they are not digestible by social services on the ground. We believe that ESN’s experience of working with local social policy authorities and social service providers brings an invaluable perspective to the on-going discussion on adequate guidelines for professionals reporting on child abuse” – stressed Mr Montero.

Harnessing the CoE Working Group on responses to violence against children through collaboration with local services

The Working Group members invited Mr Montero to present ESN’s work in the area of violence against children, share his observations on reporting child abuse, and make suggestions for further action in this area.

The Working Group on Responses to violence against children assists the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child in the CoE in its mandate to enhance the implementation of international standards on the protection of children from violence in member states.  One of the Group’s main objectives is to contribute to developing non-binding instruments containing relevant guidance for member states on systems for professionals to report violence against children and on measures and interventions aimed at preventing peer violence and sexual abusive behaviour by children.

The meeting held on 22 April focused on presenting and revising the draft Recommendation on mechanisms for professionals to report violence against children. Topics discussed included determining the appropriate scope of the recommendations, developing an adequate definition of violence against children and assessing the practical usefulness of recommendations for reporting bodies.

In his speech, Mr Montero highlighted that violence against children includes blatant cases of children’s rights violations, such as child-trafficking, and broader failures to provide adequate care and proper conditions for children’s development.

Mr Montero underlined that European recommendations on reporting violence against children would only be effective if local services are able to act on them.

ESN has been working extensively on the organisation of children’s services. In 2016, ESN published the report “Investing in Children’s services, improving outcomes”, an analysis of the organisation of children’s services in 14 European countries that includes policy proposals for public authorities on how children’s services should be developed in line with European Commission’s recommendations.

More recently, ESN’s Working Group on Integrated Care and Support focused on how services working with children and families may cooperate. In March this year,  ESN held a webinar on the role of public social services in implementing SDG 16.2 on ending violence against children.