Press Releases

16. 11. 200711:21

Nationwide Specialist Conference "In the Interest of the Child"

Addressing a nationwide conference entitled “In the Interest of the Child“, the Czech Prime Minister has described protection of the child as one of the priorities of his Government’s policy. Premier Mirek Topolánek stressed that parents and the family have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child. That is why support of the family figures as a major component of the Government’s policy. However, if the family fails to live up to its duties or if there are cases of child battering, neglect or abuse, the state will step in more efficiently.
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Petr Nečas spoke of the plans in the field of transformation of institutional care with the ultimate aim of gradually reducing the number of children in child-care institutions. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is getting ready to unify the system of social and legal protection of children under one roof - within the National Office for Employment and Social Affairs.
For its part, the Justice Ministry has submitted in recent months a number of legislative proposals aimed at strengthening the protection of minors. These involve specifications of the problems of preliminary injunctions issued by courts by introducing the term "suitable environment" where children may eventually be placed but only for an absolutely necessary period of time. In matters involving child care, courts are now given a new possibility to order contending parties in a dispute to participate in an out-of-court mediation proceedings or provide suitable family therapy. A system of protecting minors who fell victims of criminal offences will be set up, which will also be reflected in the country’s Rules of Civil Procedure.
Government Minister Džamila Stehlíková has described cases of child battering, neglect and violence against children in the family, in the community, at school and in institutional care as the most burning problems facing children in the Czech society. Unfortunately, these are no extreme cases. According to surveys, 82 % of children in the Czech Republic have had some experience of physical punishment. One third of Czech children has sometimes been exposed to violence, not only to ordinary physical punishment. On many occasions, these are cases of psychic and physical ill-treatment, sexual abuse and bullying. Surveys show that 33 % of girls and 20 % of boys have had some experience of sexual abuse. 40 % of elementary school pupils have encountered some form of violence. According to studies, one third of Czech teachers have sometimes resorted to physical punishment. It is very difficult to obtain accurate statistics on battered children since many cases of ill-treatment of children go undetected. There is still a very low public awareness and understanding of the key causes of violence against children. This particular problem has to be resolved in a comprehensive and preventive manner. Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities Džamila Stehlíková sees as her priority elaboration of a National Strategy for the Prevention of Violence against Children that will make a sizeable contribution to enhancing child protection.

Press Department of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic