The Smile of the Child
Member: NGO Premium
Voluntary Children's Association
10, Zinonos Eleatou Street, GR-151 24 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
The President of The Smile of the Child meets with His Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic
On the occasion of today’s conclusion of the nationwide campaign “It remains a secret”, the President of the BoD of “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, was welcomed at the Presidential Palace by His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
The nationwide campaign against the sexual abuse of children was launched by “The Smile of the Child” from the 11th of November to 11th of December under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic, the support of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece and respective Prefectures across Greece.
The aim of the meeting was to inform and submit to the President of the Hellenic Republic the outcome of the campaign that took place in various cities across the country by raising awareness among the public and bringing together the competent institutional actors in working meetings in Athens, Patras, Larisa, Ioannina, Chalkida, Heraklion, Chania, Tripoli and Thessaloniki.
The President of “The Smile of the Child” presented to the President of the Hellenic Republic the proposals that were formulated during the campaign’s meetings, shared the views expressed by citizens and institutional actors, and asked for his intervention in order to organize a Working Meeting at the Presidential Palace with the participation of the heads of all involved actors with the ultimate goal to institutionalize and implement these concrete proposals.
During the meeting, the President of the Hellenic Republic congratulated once more the President of “The Smile of the Child” for this initiative against the scourge of the sexual abuse of children in cooperation – from now on, within an institutional framework - the judiciary and other public actors. More specifically, he highlighted: “All this signifies the recognition of “The Smile of the Child” by the State, and I hope that this recognition and this cooperation will make us all responsible towards you, so that the State, from its side, will do all it ought to do and that we will all be able to make a distinction between organizations like yours and other organizations. Everything is not equal, Mr. Yannopoulos. And in many issues we have to learn that the principle of equality is proportional. It means equal treatment of substantially similar situations and unequal treatment of substantially different situations. So, I hope the State treats “The Smile of the Child” the way it deserves to be treated, just because “The Smile of the Child” is “something else”, allow me to say it as simply as that. Congratulations once again and let me thank you”.
17.500 citizens co-signed electronically the proposals set forth by “The Smile of the Child” during the campaign with the goal to promote the necessary changes from the competent actors and TO ensure the protection of every child from the phenomenon of sexual abuse.
15 proposals for the prevention and tackling of the phenomenon were finally formulated following the conclusion of the meetings that took place in various cities of Greece and views from citizens collected during the campaign:
1. Sexual education in primary schools must be institutionalized. The goal is to inform children on related matters in an accurate way and educate children on what they should refuse, suspect and how to seek help in case they feel threatened.
2. A certificate of A CLEAN criminal record, a full psychiatric evaluation focused on sexual behavior and a certificate of non-prosecution as a prerequisite for the recruitment of professionals to public and private actors who come into direct contact with children. This certificate must be renewed every two years.
3. Professionals must receive the necessary training in order to ensure effective tackling of sexual abuse cases (police officers, prosecutors, teachers, health professionals, social services).
4. Professionals (teachers and doctors) who report, as they are obliged to, a case of a child sexual abuse must be protected by law. The lack of knowledge and fear constitute the main reasons why such incidents are not reported to competent authorities by teachers and doctors.
5. The obligation of a teacher to report to the competent authorities on a child sexual abuse case, as well as any case that violates the respect to the sexual dignity of a child, not only within the framework of domestic violence, must be added to the existing national law 3500/2006 (article 23).
6. Development of specialized Centers in Greece where a specialized scientific team will take care for each child victim. In these Centers children will testify to trained interviewers in a unified manner, only once and in a safe and fully protective environment. All competent professionals (prosecutorial authorities, Hellenic Police, social services, services of mental and physical health) will participate in this procedure.
7. Establish a strict limitation to the possibility of services and actors to request from a child-victim an additional testimony or interview before or following the initial testimony. The goal is to avoid any secondary and further victimization of children-victims and provoke any discouragement of potential victims to report.
8. Development of a Protocol of Search, Diagnosis and Management on Sexual Abuse of children from competent professionals.
9. The development of a Protocol that will describe the cooperation of the actors involved (prosecution, police, social services, physical and mental health services) for the management of every case of child sexual abuse.
10. The development of specialized therapeutic Centers for children victims.
11. The creation of shelters of protective accommodation for children victims.
12. Facilitation of legal procedures. The cases of sexual abuse of children are lengthy and as a result children-victims usually experience a procedure with detrimental consequences for them.
13. The implementation of stricter and more exemplary sentences for those convicted for sexual crimes against children. Sentences must apply for the entire period of the charge, without any mitigation of the charges. Those convicted should remain during the entire period of their conviction in high security imprisonment institutions. A Registrar list of those convicted for sexual crimes against children must be maintained.
14. Establishment of a unified agency in Greece for the registration of cases of sexual abuse of children and their nature.
15. Interconnection of the prosecutorial services that will allow for the joint access to file cases of sexual abuse of children and will contribute to the better knowledge and management of each case.
Watch footage video from today’s meeting here