[Bulgaria] Children undergoing legal procedures are particularly vulnerable

07 Nov 2018
Know-How Centre for the Alternative Care for Children

"Children undergoing legal procedures are particularly vulnerable," said Valeri Yordanov, Deputy Chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection in Bulgaria, at a conference on "Professionalization of Social and Educational Interventions in the Field of Justice for Children: Challenges and Opportunities in France and Bulgaria".

Mr. Yordanov has also  emphasized a number of other important points: the procedures should be adapted and far more gentle. The main task of the specialists in preventing the trauma of the committed crime should be to support and inform children about their rights so that they can learn to exercise them in order to form their own views. The professionalisation of prosecutors and judges, the introduction of blue rooms for a gentle hearing of children, the support of their families, alongside prevention and early intervention services, would guarantee the best interest of children who have committed a crime. The most common causes of children's conflict with the law are social: poverty, isolation, incitement by adults. Social and psychotherapeutic support, assessment of individual risk and the family environment are important conditions for overcoming the problem. A safe and secure environment, the prevention of violence and the exercise of adequate justice should be the priorities of the national strategy for the protection of children subject to legal proceedings.

Professor Nelly Boyadjieva from Sofia University said that nowadays it's necessary to have an integrated training of the specialists in relation to social service professions and that the outflow of students' interest in training in the social sphere due to the still relatively low pay is worrying. The topics of the conference were: training, education and professional standards in the context of socially educational activities with children in conflict with the law.

The conference was organized via the MA program "Social and Educational Activities with Offenders of the Law" at the Faculty of Education and Arts at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" in cooperation with the Institute for Social Activities and Practices and the National Network for Children, and supported by the French Embassy in Sofia and the French Institute in Bulgaria as part of a program to support university and scientific events. The event was also internationally attended by Stéphane Rullac, professor of Social Innovation at the University of Social Work and Health in Lausanne, and the Head of the Master's Degree in Family Education and Social Educational Intervention in Europe at Paris-Nanterre University - Gilles Séraphin. Representatives of state institutions and NGOs from the justice and social sectors also attended. The conference was held on 23.10 and 24.10.2018 at the Faculty of Education and Arts, Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski".

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