Childhood opens Germany’s first Barnahus – Childhood-Haus
On September 27, Germany’s first Barnahus (Children´s Advocacy Center) is opening in Leipzig. Queen Silvia of Sweden, the founder of Childhood, will attend the inauguration of the Childhood-Haus. The Queen, and Childhood, were driving forces in improving support for children who are victims of abuse.
The children’s rights organization Childhood continues to invest expertise and resources in Barnahus around the world. The model has proven to be a reliably child-friendly and legally secure way of helping children who are victims of sexual abuse. Germany’s first Barnahus is being opened by Childhood Germany in collaboration with the Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin (Hospital and Polyclinic for Children’s and Youth Medicine) at University Hospital Leipzig.
“The Barnahus model focuses on children’s needs. The relevant government authorities and expertise are gathered into one place, which means that children only need to tell their story once. That is why spreading this model is a priority issue for us,” says Paula Guillet de Monthoux, Secretary General of Childhood.
The Barnahus model comes from Iceland, and was established in Sweden, with strong support by Queen Silvia and Childhood, for the purpose of improving support for children who are victims of abuse. Childhood works actively to spread competence and knowledge about the concept of Barnahus and to enable more of them to be opened. Currently, there are just over 30 Barnahus children’s houses in Sweden, and both completed and ongoing initiatives in countries including Belarus, Poland, South Africa and Brazil. The Childhood-Haus in Leipzig is a pilot project and the plan is to establish more Barnahus in Germany over the next few years.
“Properly treating children who are victims of sexual abuse is crucial for their healing. As in many other places around the world, in Germany, the children encounter a judicial system that is not adapted to their needs. They are often passed around among different authorities, having to repeat their stories several times; they may need to tell what they’ve been through up to eight times. Naturally, this increases the risk of re-traumatization. The aim of our Childhood-Haus is to improve their situation and avoid them suffering further trauma,” says Andrea Möhringer, who is responsible for Childhood’s operations in Germany.
This is BARNAHUS
- A Barnahus is open to children who are victims of suspected violence or sexual abuse. When this happens, many groups of professionals and government agencies will become involved; the Barnahus children’s houses are there so that the child is not pushed around between different government agencies and to reduce the risk of them falling between the cracks.
- The environment in the Barnahus is designed to make the child feel welcome. The interior is well thought out and uses colors and furniture that create a sense of comfort and trust.
- At the Barnahus, the police investigators work together with the prosecutor, social services, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and child health and medical care/forensic medicine services under one and the same roof. By gathering everyone in one place to listen to the child at the same time, the work can better be coordinated among them. Every individual who meets the child is specially trained for that purpose.
- There are just over 30 Barnahus children’s houses in Sweden today. The first Barnahus children’s house in Sweden was opened in 2005, in Linköping.