Child maltreatment prevention workshop strengthens collaboration in Nordic–Baltic subregion

WHO

WHO/Europe has brought together and supported Member States within the Nordic–Baltic subregion to strengthen national action to tackle violence against children through intersectoral work. To advance progress in this area, more than 90 stakeholders from 10 Member States took part in a workshop on 18–19 June 2018 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to discuss how the health sector could partner with other sectors to stop child maltreatment. The Government of Lithuania and the Nordic Baltic Council of Ministers cohosted the event.

Lithuania is one of the countries that has shown great commitment in the field of violence prevention, and has banned corporal punishment in all settings. The example of Lithuania shows that partnering with the health, justice and welfare sectors makes a significant difference.

Professor Aurelijus Veryga, Minister of Health of Lithuania, stated, “Child violence prevention is a priority area for collaboration in Lithuania. Workshops such as this will spearhead the sharing of knowledge to galvanize action to end child maltreatment.”

From dialogue to action

Workshop participants discussed country profiles from the 2013 “European report on preventing child maltreatment”. Nearly 80% of countries have developed a national action plan to prevent child maltreatment; however, only 4 out of 10 of these plans are funded. Countries are making good progress on strengthening laws. The prohibition of corporal punishment in all settings now covers 62% of countries – an improvement from 47% in 2012.

The “European report on preventing child maltreatment” was developed to assess progress in implementing the European child maltreatment prevention action plan 2015–2020. The plan aims for a 20% reduction in rates of child maltreatment in the WHO European Region. Since 2010, child homicide rates have fallen by 11% in the Region.

Though much has been achieved, the workshop concluded that much more is needed to ramp up efforts. Participants proposed the following actions:

  • conduct periodic surveys of child maltreatment and other violence against children to monitor the situation at the national level;
  • exchange expertise in the Nordic–Baltic subregion to implement the actions outlined in WHO’s “INSPIRE. Seven strategies for ending violence against children”; and
  • develop and implement properly funded intersectoral action plans to achieve this.