Nursery and kindergarten staff of the Municipality of Milan are visiting Athens this week to exchange experiences and practices with their Greek counterparts at the Municipality of Athens within the framework of the project "Reinforce Educators, Empower Children” (REEC) of the organization Terre des hommes Hellas.
Athens, May 23, 2022- Child protection professionals from Italy started today their visit to Athens within the REEC program that continues for the second consecutive year in Athens and Milan by the organization Terre des hommes Hellas and its partners, the International Refugee Committee (IRC), and the Municipality of Milan, under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens. During their trip to Athens, the Italian team will visit kindergartens, nurseries, and primary schools in Athens, will be informed about strategies for promoting child well-being in services of the Municipality of Athens, will exchange experiences and practices and discuss integrated approaches between different organizations.
Through the cooperation of teachers, professionals, social workers, and psychologists of the two municipalities, REEC aspires to create a protective environment for preschool and school-age children, with particular emphasis on marginalized or vulnerable children. "Only through the interconnection and cooperation of all these bodies can it be possible to detect, manage and adequately refer to the competent authorities cases or concerns of adverse childhood experiences, including abuse and neglect," said the head of Terre des hommes in Greece, Leda Avgousti, adding: "Our program creates links not only between people who work for and with the child but also between education and child protection institutions that will bring about systemic change. "Through such exchanges, the bonds that are forged contribute substantially to the protection of the rights of the child, which is also the ultimate goal of the REEC program and of our organization at a broader level."
According to official data, in the first half of 2021, 35,864 calls were recorded for child protection issues in Greece. Of these calls, 15,421 (43%) had to do with incidents of child abuse. "Certainly, however, the phenomenon is underreported, and the real numbers of child abuse cases are much higher," said REEC’s project coordinator from Tdh, George Kanaris, adding: "It is very difficult to know the true number of abused children, as well as the actual number of victims/survivors of domestic violence which is by far the most underreported group".
The catalyst for the success of the project is the good connection and cooperation between all bodies involved in child protection - teachers, parents, child protection services and professionals - something that needs improvement in Greece and organizations hope that programs such as REEC, contribute to achieving. "Our work does not end with the training, but we monitor the trainees in the medium term to see if they can apply the methodologies taught in practice and if not, how we could better support them," said Melina Chalkidi, project coordinator for IRC. So far, the two organizations have trained a total of 386 teachers and professionals in Greece and Italy and are going to train another 300 by the end of the year. "REEC is not the first program to address child abuse in Greece, we recently completed a similar one, for the consolidation of policies and protocols in sports and recreation settings with the participation of 20 summer camps," said Terre des hommes's advocacy adviser, Melina Spathari, adding "Child protection doesn’t require magic, it requires action, so it is in this action that we have committed ourselves at Terre des hommes.
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The REEC program is co-financed by the European Union Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program.