Dardedze advocacy objectives: 2022 achievements and 2023 commitments

Centrs Dardedze operates in three areas: it educates children, parents, and professionals, it provides psychological support, and it actively advocates for children’s rights, promoting systemic child-friendly changes in Latvia’s laws, regulations, and national strategic plans.

How much did we succeed with our 2022 goals?

1 Improvements in child sexual abuse investigations.

  • We put forward an updated definition of sexual abuse in the Law on the Protection of the Children’s Rights, replacing the term ‘sexual violence’ with ‘sexual abuse’, approved by the stakeholders and is soon be adopted by the national Parliament.
  • As a result of joint discussions, the Ministry of Justice is working on a guide on investigating sexual offences against children for law-enforcement agencies, which will spread good practice in this field.

2 Improvements in pre-school teacher training, supervision, and support activities for the prevention of violence against children.

  • We held discussions with universities that train pre-school teachers, covering possible improvements in their curricula regarding the topic of prevention of child abuse (socio-emotional skills, etc.), and exploring various cooperation opportunities.
  • Problems were discovered in the fragmented pre-school supervision and support system.

3 Improvements in the handling of cases of harmful sexual behaviour by children.

  • Different institutions handle cases of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) by children very differently: from ignoring to overreacting. This does not address the root of the problem and does not prevent HSB from continuing.
  • In 2022, we actively raised the issue of HSB in discussions, at a conference for specialists, in the media, and on social media, working towards a common understanding of the problem.
  • We also achieved the inclusion of the objective of training specialists in HSB cases in the 2022–2027 Guidelines for Child, Youth, and Family Development.

What do we want to achieve in 2023?

  • Develop a cross-institutional cooperation algorithm for cases of harmful sexual behaviour among children (detection, reporting, support services, assessment of results).
  • We will encourage the development of child sexual abuse prevention plans in municipal governments.

We also plan to continue the activities we have started:

  • participate in the preparation of the Ministry of Justice guide to improve the success rate of child sexual abuse investigations;
  • expand cooperation with instructors training pre-school teachers; assess and provide comments for the report and the Cabinet Regulations aimed at reducing violence in schools;
  • encourage physicians to report child abuse and ramp up cooperation with social services.
  • we continue to hold the biannual meetings of the Expert Council for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, to participate in a number of sub-groups of the Cooperation Council for Children’s Affairs, in the ‘Bērna māja’ (‘Barnahus’) work group of the Ministry of Welfare, and in other activities.

In 2022–2023, the main activities of Centrs Dardedze are supported by EEA and Norway grants, through the Active Citizens Fund programme.