[European Union] European States Urged to Strengthen and Support Families Before Resorting to Out-of-Home Care

21 Oct 2019
Council of Europe

declaration on ‘Protecting children in out-of-home care from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse’ has been adopted in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 18 October by the Lanzarote Committee.

The declaration’s main concepts include:

  • ‘Out-of-home care’ represents all settings in which children can be placed out of their home for care, excluding placements for education and criminal justice measures.
  • ‘Residential care’ is a non-family-based form of alternative care provided by paid professionals working in shifts.
  • ‘Institutional setting’ is a care facility, which hosts many children.

Children are at risk of sexual abuse in residential care and institutional settings. The Lanzarote Committee warns European states to ensure that in all types of out-of-home care settings there are:

  • comprehensive screening procedures for all persons taking care of children;
  • specific measures to prevent child abuse;
  • adequate mechanisms supporting children to disclose any sexual violence;
  • protocols to ensure that in the event of disclosure, effective follow-up is given in terms of assistance to the alleged victims and investigation of the alleged offences by the appropriate authorities:
  • clear procedures to allow for the possibility of removing the alleged perpetrator from the out-of-home care setting at the onset of the investigation;
  • effective monitoring of practices and standards to prevent/combat child sexual abuse.

Victims of sexual abuse in out-of-home care settings should be provided with long-term assistance in terms of medical, psychological and social support, as well as with legal aid and compensation.


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