”I have founded an organization. My biggest wish is to shut it down soon.”Queen Silvia of Sweden
With these words, Queen Silvia founded Childhood twenty years ago. Since the very beginnings of our organization, we have worked persistently to implement Childhood´s vision: to ensure that all children have a safe and loving childhood, free from violence, exploitation and sexual abuse, in a world where such is not tolerated. We have supported more than 1000 projects across the globe – initiatives and ideas that have developed and grown thanks to our support, knowledge and encouragement. Often the ideas have derived from passionate pioneers, eldsjälar, close to the children – people with knowledge and understanding for children´s vunerabilities and needs. Thanks to Childhood:
The Barnahus model has been established in Sweden – and abroad
Barnahus (Child Advocacy Centers) has proven to be a reliable, child-friendly and legally secure way of helping children who have been sexually abused. The concept came from the United States via Iceland and was established in Sweden with strong support from Queen Silvia and Childhood. We work actively to spread competence and knowledge about Barnahus and to enable more of them to be openedI. In 2018, we supported the opening of three Barnahus in Poland and Germany; in 2020 two more were established in Germany, in Berlin and Duesseldorf.
”Mentor mom” training programs have been developed in South Africa
Early support for parents means long-term and sustainable protection for children – that is why we have worked with different initiatives over the years to support and strengthen parents. One example is Philani’s program for mothers living in impoverished townships in South Africa, where “mentor mothers”, mothers who themselves managed to raise healthy children in challenging conditions, were trained and supervised to make home-visits to new mothers and their infants. When we started working with Philani the program was a pilot project consisting of 20 mothers. Today, it involves 220 mentor mothers who serve 15 000 families in Cape Town.
Putting child sexual abuse on the global agenda
Over the twenty years of Childhood´s existence, we have also contributed in putting child sexual abuse on the global agenda: What used to be an invisible, silent and all-too-often denied problem is now something we recognize and collectively promise to stop. Through the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals the entire world, for the first time ever, has set a goal to stop all forms of violence against children. For us, that´s a great success – finally, there´s a Vision Zero!
”Will Queen Silvia ever be able to shut down her organization, as she hoped when Childhood was founded?” people often ask when we talk about our 20-year anniversary. That is our goal. But as Queen Silvia recently said: As long as we are needed, we will continue working.
Text: Åsa Andreasson Åkerström, photo: Jonathon Rees