PROMISE Barnahus Network members attended the first Barnahus Forum 2022 in Stockholm on 5 December 2022 that supported their work in a vibrant exchange of information, tools, contacts, and inspiration. The first time Barnahus practitioners and the community could meet in person since launching the Network in 2019.
Barnahus Forum 2022, co-organised by the Council of the Baltic Sea States, began with welcoming words by high-level speakers representing the UN and the EU who expressed their support for the Barnahus model.
In her video address, Dr Najat Maalla Mjid, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children urged that standards must be updated to reflect the latest research into what works best in supporting child victims of violence. Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, thanked the members for preventing and fighting violence, with and for children and noted that the Forum’s discussions will give input to the European Commission’s work to support integrated child protection systems in member states.
In the second part, child delegates from Bulgaria, Germany and Ireland interviewed Grzegorz Poznański, Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat, and Bragi Guðbrandsson, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, initiator of the Barnahus model. Their conversation covered the past and future development of Barnahus, and common challenges.
The opening was followed by 16 breakout sessions divided into four thematic themes covered by this year’s Forum: multidisciplinary, criminal investigation, emerging challenges, and promising practice. The members explored the role of Barnahus managers, considerations for scaling up Barnahus, children affected by armed conflict, adapting to online sexual abuse cases, children with harmful behaviour, the importance of medical evaluations for every child, and much more. With more than one-third of the participants having an active role in one or more breakout sessions, this day really was by the members and for the members.
Several of the sessions put the ideas and inspiration from the day into action by gathering feedback on the Barnahus Quality Standards. Considering the fast pace of developments since the Standards were published in 2017, the members harnessed this opportunity to ensure that they remain clear and concise, and that important elements aren’t missing. Children also presented their feedback.
We express our sincere gratitude to all participants for making the Barnahus Forum a stand-out event that will lead to concrete improvements in services for child victims of violence throughout the member countries and beyond.
The Forum was co-funded by the third wave of EU co-funded PROMISE projects, and also by the PROMISE Barnahus Network’s membership fees. The main organiser was the Council of the Baltic Sea States, which is the host of the PROMISE Barnahus Network. PROMISE is managed by the Children at Risk Unit at the Council of the Baltic Sea States in close collaboration with Child Circle.