Arguments for Prevention and Education
Citizens’ intimate of opinion about the country and society they live in is based on facts which are most frequent met. In the same way it starts the feeling of helplessness in relation to situations that go beyond our power as social impact. ACSIS was started on the initiative of parents who have experienced this helplessness feeling and were able to appreciate at its true value the importance of adequate support, granted in a difficult time. Together with experienced professionals in the social service, ACSIS demonstrates every day that education and specialized assistance can contribute significantly to positive change in vulnerable persons’ lives.
We headed our activities towards prevention and education not only because prevention has much lower costs than intervention but also because prevention and education, act both at present and for the future. A parent, who has learned to grow his offspring, will apply the same principles in the future to the next child. A parent, who has learned to ask for support, will tell another parent that it is possible to keep the family together and to prevent the abandonment of children in an institution. A teenager, who has avoided trafficking, will teach his friend or his own child to be careful. A child, who has continued the school, will help in turn his child to continue school.
How looks the reality we work in?
In 2012, four children have been abandoned in Romania on a DAILY BASIS, according to National Authority for Child Protection and Adoption. In 2013, according to the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection, 1449 children were abandoned in maternity hospitals or other medical establishments. Also, Romania occupies first place in Europe with a number of 8,500 minor mothers, annually.
More than 60,000 children are now in State care. Only ten percent of them are officially abandoned, the rest cannot be cared by the family. Poverty and abandonment culture, speak a harsh and unequivocal language.
Every third trafficked person is a child and their number grows year by year, Romania being the main source of slaves for Europe. According to a sad statistics of the Interior Ministry “approximately 54% of the victims were recruited by an acquaintance or a friend. …. And most of the victims have been lured through promises of a job abroad. On the criterion of age distribution shows that 52% of the victims were major when trafficked. Most of the victims were trafficked to be exploited sexually, approximately 66%, 8% more than last year“. What tell us the numbers above? That 48% of victims were kids or almost kids! Source.
“According to the official statistics (INS, 2011), in the school year 2009/2010 1.4% of pupils in primary education and 1.7% of students in secondary education left school. Adding to this the percentage of children who have never attended school, we have a total of over 44,000 children of primary age and over 48 thousand children of secondary school age who are outside the education system. “(UNICEF Report)
What is it and how happens child abandonment?
If you have ever been in a placement centre or in an abandoned children room of a pediatric hospital or maternity, you saw that overcoming sadness in children’s eyes, still awaiting their mothers. There is sadness, there is despair, and there is revolt and finally, there is despair in their eyes. It depends on how long they have been abandoned, if they were visited or not…. Their hands waving to any person that seems to look at them, their little body stretching to reach someone’s arms and their eyes ceaselessly looking for mother, in the eyes of every person passing by. Then … after years and years of rejection and disappointment, impossible attachments and impersonal life, they give up and go away. They hide in themselves and their eyes’ little light resigns and goes away, far away, in an imaginary world where there are mothers and loving arms that relieves crying. It is a renouncement to all means life, often: every month in institution, development losses are visible. Depression is ubiquitous and children grow up very slowly. With each month spent away from their mothers, scientists measure losses over losses, by comparison with the little ones who grow up in families: weight and height, cognitive development, emotional development; long-term institutionalized children register changes in brain structure, endocrine system functioning disturbances and even size diminishing of the telomeres, which correlates with decreased life expectancy. A review of such a study is published here.
“Most children in institutions are abandoned by their families (very few are orphan). The abandonment takes place usually in maternity, where mothers declare a false identity and abandon their children immediately after birth … Another place for the abandonment of children is the Pediatric Department of the Hospital where the child is brought for a certain disease and “forgot” by the family there. …..Romanian experience in the problem of institutionalized children outlines some very important aspects for its future development: institutionalization of children is expensive…; institutionalizing adversely affect the child’s development; the risk of social exclusion in the case of a child leaving care institutions is double compared to a child growing up in the family. “Source.
ACSIS experience for more than10 years shows that material support implemented for a limited time and associated to parental education, psychological and vocational support, have as result family child care.
For all these reasons, ACSIS has made abandonment prevention an important part of its mission and supports child membership to family in several ways: through children/teens/parents educational projects; through abandonment prevention projects and trafficking in persons prevention projects, facilitation of disadvantaged single mothers labor market integration projects.
Prevention of trafficking in people and school drop-out.
Our present means that, together with abandonment prevention, it is equally important to prevent a further exploitation of children and youth social vulnerabilities by malicious individuals. Vulnerability can be represented by poverty, neglect or misinformation. Unfortunately, trafficking in human beings is a process that sometimes affects for life the individual’s ability to function coherently, particularly socially and emotionally. The incarceration and forced labor, threats and violence shock, undermine trust and openness necessary for a normal social life, hence victims hardly recover the ability to build families based on trust and other social skills considered “trivial”, but which are a part of normal lives invisible ingredients.
Why school is important for children’s present?
The school organizes, develops cognitively and offers future possibilities to avoid poverty and social vulnerability perpetuation through professional environment integration and through providing a decent living. Number one factor that fosters school dropouts, according to a study realized by UNICEF [http://www.unicef.ro/media/buletin-informativ-nr-7/abandonul-scolar-timpuriu-cauze-si-posibilitati-de-prevenire/] is poverty and the second and third factors are family educational models (parents and siblings). We meet again a phenomenon that has a generational transmission, as well as child abandonment, which perpetuates through example. Through school continuation until obtaining a certification for a particular profession, the vicious circle of poverty that leads to abandonment, of trafficking that leads to abandonment, of despair that leads to abandonment is interrupted.
Our present means TO PREVENT: child abandonment suffering, trauma traffic, weakening by discontinuing education and family destruction.
The future for which we work:
We intend to build a future with strong connected communities, in which members in need support each other, and is strongly approved to keep children in their own family. Our vision includes the parents’ education to support children’s development and parents’ education to have an occupation. Through our projects, we apply the principle “help in need, education for the future and work for now”. In vulnerable communities, we build networks of preventive education and support for young people who are potential targets of trafficking in human beings. We support education pro-education (education which develops perspectives to be further educated), but also pro-work education (education that promote labor market insertion). We encourage learning, internal resources development, as well as communities for reciprocal support.
The future is being built now, in every moment of “now”: the child who stays near his mother will be colleague of my child; young woman who avoided the trafficking inferno will pass us on the street and she will smile, or her baby will smile to us; the child who is at school today, tomorrow will work with me. Today’s young woman who learns to be better parent, tomorrow will give a helping hand to another parent.
This is the future for which we work, developing prevention programs with impact and profound and enduring echoes in children, adolescents, young people, and disadvantaged families’ lives.