Child Protection

The CBSS is working to strengthen national child protection systems. It does this through regional dialogue and practical cooperation which supports legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect children from all forms of violence.


The vision of the CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk, which engages in regular exchange and practical projects to promote children’s rights and child protection in the Baltic Sea Region, is that children in the Baltic Sea Region enjoy their rights as recognised in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child  (UNCRC), including protection against all forms of violence. To this end, the expert group promotes effective national child protection systems that offer comprehensive prevention, protection and support. Such systems should provide equal opportunities for all children to grow, develop and thrive free from all forms of violence. Despite progress, some children still do not enjoy their right to protection from violence, as recognised in the UNCRC.

The issue in the BSR context 

The countries in the Baltic Sea Region have, in general, strong child protection systems which comprise legal and policy frameworks, governance structures, a plethora of programmes ranging from prevention to response, a professional workforce and decentralised service delivery. The countries furthermore share a common foundation in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which to a large extent has been reflected in the national legislative, policy and strategic frameworks. 

The approaches to child protection are similar across the countries but with some variations, depending on the national context. The countries in general adopt a rights-based, child-focused approach, where the system prioritises the rights of the individual child to protection and the importance of supporting parents and other carers to achieve this.

Emerging challenges and crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, place substantial pressure on the countries in the region to maintain achievements, while at the same time adapting to meet changing demands.

The role of the CBSS

Current work includes, among other things, efforts to document and disseminate notable practices that contribute to inclusive and resilient child protection systems in the Baltic Sea Region, including in crisis and emergencies. There is a strong focus on building mutual trust and collaboration between the countries in the region and enhancing the ability of national child protection systems to work effectively on transnational cases, which often involve children in the most precarious of situations.

This work involves developing resources for excellence in practice in referral, assessment/screening, support, coordination, protection and follow-up in cases of violence against children. It also includes work to expand national and transnational referral mechanisms to include children and collect data on violence against children in an online environment.

With the Children at Risk Unit at CBSS as a hub of cooperation on child protection, the Baltic Sea Region has developed ground-breaking research on young people’s attitudes to sexual behaviour and online risk-taking behaviour, guidance to support the implementation of laws against violence, a child-rights and system-based approach to audit and monitoring of child welfare facilities and guidelines to promote human rights and best interests of children in transnational situations. The CBSS has also played a lead role in establishing the European Barnahus Network and promoting the establishment and expansion of the model throughout the Baltic Sea Region and Europe. 


We are currently working on:

  • Promoting inclusive and resilient child protection systems, including in crisis and emergency, enhancing the ability of national child protection systems to work effectively on transnational cases, which often involve children in the most precarious of situations, and supporting excellence in the practice of Barnahus. Read more…
  • Strengthening the sustainability and impact of child participation mechanisms in decision-making processes at both national and local levels with a specific focus on decisions and action to build safe and secure societies, including their resilience and ability to prevent, prepare, respond, and adapt to different types of hazards and emergencies. Read more…
  • Ensuring a safe and informed pathway through Barnahus for children who are presumed victims of violence. This involves designing, piloting, and evaluating a replicable, safe and informed pathway from initial report to long-term recovery and protection through the involvement of a child liaison. Read more…
  • Promoting specialised interventions in cases of online sexual violence, provided in multidisciplinary and interagency models for child victims and witnesses of violence. Read more…
  • Barnahus: Promoting multidisciplinary and interagency justice and response for child victims and witnesses of violence – ensuring the rights of child victims of violence to justice, protection and recovery in Bulgaria, by supporting multidisciplinary and interagency services. Read more…
  • Addressing the specific needs of child victims of trafficking and exploitation, including where facilitated by online technology, by significantly strengthening the opportunities and means for coordination between (i) authorities and actors specifically involved in responding to trafficking cases and (ii) authorities and actors involved in responding to violence against children and ensuring child centred justice processes more generally. Read more…
  • Measuring the impact of the Barnahus model on protecting the rights of children victims of sexual abuse in the criminal justice system – developing an evidence-based tool to pilot the impact of the Barnahus model in supporting the rights and the needs of child victims of sexual abuse. Read more…
  • 2Know – gathering data on online violence against children – improving national and international data collection on violence against children by developing a sustainable and replicable data collection model suited to gathering information about online violence against children. Read more…

CBSS Pilot Support Facility Projects

Initiatives which have received funding from the CBSS which support the implementation of the children at risk priorities include:  

  • Resilient Child Protection Systems around the Baltic Sea 

The overall objective of the project is to make a concrete contribution to the CAR priority to build more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient national child protection systems, including during crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, by identifying and providing easy access to a registry containing information about key elements and good practice of well-functioning child protection systems in the Baltic Sea Region. 

  • Child sexual abuse crimes in media coverage: Providing expertise for sustainable media support of the CSA crimes survivors in the Baltic Sea Region

This project has four key objectives: To investigate CSA-related media coverage and establish the harmful narratives, myths and stereotypes; to develop practical recommendations for journalists and other relevant stakeholders; to train key stakeholders, disseminate study results, and raise public awareness; to establish an international network of scientists, child protection stakeholders and media professionals for future collaboration, information and practice sharing. 

Facts & Figures 

  • All CBSS Member States have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
  • All CBSS Member States have a full legal prohibition of corporal punishment in place.
  • Barnahus (“Children’s Houses”) are set up or piloted in all CBSS member states and many more across Europe.
  • The European Barnahus network, hosted by the CBSS, is active in 43 national contexts to support and promote Barnahus. The network is endorsed by key officials from the United Nations, the European Union and the Council of Europe.
  • Guidance on implementing legal bans on corporal punishment has been translated into 11 languages, with more translations in progress.
  • Over the past 24 years, CBSS has been involved in training over 1500 professionals in the areas of child protection, asylum and migration, trafficking, alternative care, safety on the internet, child friendly justice and more.

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