The government will adopt next week by emergency ordinance a national support program “Out of concern for children”, Prime Minister Florin Cîțu announced on Tuesday.
Romania thus becomes one of the first European countries to put on the public agenda of priorities the dimension of children’s psycho-emotional health, but also their safety, in the context of the new types of threats to which they are exposed. The program brings an innovative approach to national legislation, given that its measures address two major cross-cutting issues for children in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, namely their psycho-emotional support and safety.
The duration of the Program is 2 years and will benefit from a budget of almost 6 million euros.
Among the priorities of the program there will be developing a multidisciplinary prevention and intervention mechanism for situations of physical, sexual and emotional violence in the family, institutional, community and online.
The PM said the program provides access to free psychological services where needed in the context of the pandemic. Cîțu also said that Romania will have a high-performance computer system, with programs for analyzing, sorting, profiling and decrypting abusive online materials.
“This was one of the largest participatory construction processes, coordinated by the Government, and what I think is really important is that the beneficiaries of the proposed measures, namely CHILDREN, were actively involved,” said Prim -Minister Florin Cîțu.
“This program pays special attention to the psycho-emotional health of children. It is even more important, the pandemic, the restrictions, the isolation, all these have affected the little ones and the effects can extend in the medium and long term. The program comes at a time more than appropriate. Children will have access to free psychological services where needed. On the other hand, specialists and parents will have access to resources and training to manage the psycho-emotional needs of children,” the PM added.
“The program has the necessary data to be a beginning and a model of how to develop collaboratively and quantifiable a national public policy that reforms and updates unaddressed areas for decades. We started this process with the conviction that we can change the paradigm in the complex field of developing the well-being of our children,” State Councilor Mădălina Turza said in her turn.
What the program further encompasses:
- 70,000 hours of psychological counseling and psychotherapy for children identified with psycho-emotional disorders caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic
- The introduction by the Ministry of Education in the school curriculum of the topics of psycho-emotional education, emotion management, online safety
- Providing training sessions for at least 7000 specialists in the field of emotion management and relationships, methods of identification and intervention in disruptive psycho-emotional situations.
- Designation of school inspectors dedicated to the management of inclusion and psycho-pedagogical support
- Establishment of hearing rooms for child victims of crime in each county
- Development of an integrated computer system for the intuitive analysis and sorting of abusive images and videos against children, which will substantially streamline the component of combating child pornography and the exploitation and abuse of minors online
- Implement a real-time alert mechanism for missing children
- Creating a single national number for child-related emergencies.
According to the latest report conducted by Save the Children Romania, called “The Impact of the Pandemic on the Emotional Well-Being of Children”, 48% of children and parents experienced anxiety, to which were often added situations of aggression, emotional disorders, depression, eating or sleeping disorders, abuse or neglect, addiction to screens, phobias, (cyber) bullying, suicide attempts or substance use during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
According to a report by the Ministry of Interior, the year 2020 saw crimes with 8,122 children as victims, while in the first seven months of this year there were reported criminal offenses with 5,111 children as victims.