A safe haven for abused children in Estonia

Last year, Estonia's Social Insurance Board opened a children's home as a pilot experiment to help children who have been sexually molested. Need for its services has become so great that more houses are being opened.

Marian Männi
Marian Männi Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
A safe haven for abused children in Estonia - NewsMavens
Child hiding, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Last year, 557 child sexual abuse cases were reported in Estonia -- the biggest number the country has seen in a decade. This most likely is the result of more cases being reported; thankfully, these abused children now have a safe place to go.

The center was opened at the beginning of last year and children were brought there by social workers, teachers or relatives.

Some children also came by themselves and told their friends about it, too.

The head of the Tallinn home, Anna Frank-Viron, said that this year's goal is to spread the word amongst children.

Even though the children's home started off as a small project dedicated only to children living in the capital, Tallinn, and surrounding areas, it will now serve children from all over Estonia. A similar home will soon open in Estonia's second biggest city, Tartu, and there is talk about opening a third one.

The center's success lies in the fact that children can go there themselves -- every third child who has been molested was a victim of their own relatives.

Details from the story:

  • The average age of molested children in Estonia is nine years.
  • One-third of the molesters were the children's own relatives and in 80% of the cases it was their father or stepfather.
  • Children who have been molested can become introverted, start to provoke, cut themselves or use substances. 
  • A children's home is a model that Iceland has used since 1998. Iceland's Barnahus' model has been the leading example for many other countries. Children's homes have been opened in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Croatia and Lithuania. And many more European countries are planning to create these safe places for children.
  • Children are interviewed and examined there in a child-friendly manner. And then they receive different forms of therapy and other help, if needed.
  • Art, therapist Helen Tartes-Babkina, has discovered, is the best way to release the pain. Children use clay modelling, they paint and draw.
  • There is also a roster of specialists helping the kids: child protection workers, police, prosecutors, psychologists and others.
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