The Child Centre serves as web based focal point for information between professionals and officials on research, projects, seminars and conferences concerning children at risk in the Baltic Sea Region. Its objective is to increase awareness and knowledge of services and methods to prevent, protect and rehabilitate children.
The eleven Baltic Sea countries have all ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are thereby obliged to take measures to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation, to prevent the sale of or traffic in children for sexual purposes and to promote physical and psychological recovery, social reintegration of abused and sexually exploited children. It was against this background that governments in the region sought new means to increase collaboration in the interest of preventing child abuse.
Following the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm 1996, and the 1998 Baltic Sea States Summit, the Swedish and Norwegian governments undertook to establish a model for enhanced cooperation between professionals and officials in this area. At regional meetings in Tallinn, Stockholm and Visby -followed by child specialist meetings in Stockholm and Oslo -specialists and government officials all agreed to establish the Child Centre network.
It was clear that enhanced cooperation through an exchange of knowledge, educational programs and research necessitated the transfer of large quantities of information between countries in the region. Child specialists in fields such as prevention and rehabilitation also felt an increased need for consultation with colleagues abroad. The Child Centre, it was decided, would offer these facilities. It promotes collaboration, the sharing of expertise and the availability of a comprehensive body of literature relating to commercial sexual exploitation and how to address the difficulties it presents.
By creating a network of existing multidisciplinary child centres working with sexually abused children in the region, the Child Centre will be instrumental in developing competence, education and consultations. Initially, national centres in Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Russian Federation and Sweden have been designated and are actively involved in the network. Furthermore, each country has identified "national co-ordinators" who will hold national responsibility for participation in the Child Centre. They are, for example, responsible for gathering and managing information and transmission to the Centre, arranging translations and identifying national needs in the field of sexual exploitation.
Among the eleven participating countries, an equal number of languages are spoken. For practical reasons we have therefore chosen English as the common language for the Child Centre web. Each country will, however be able to publish information written in their own language behind the national flags on the website.
Over time, the Child Centre will develop and gradually evolve to become an even better tool in international efforts to promote the welfare of children and combat all forms of abuse and sexual exploitation.
The Working Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk - WGCC - was established 28 January 2002 after decision taken 31 October 2001 in Stockholm at the Meeting with High Officials from Ministries responsible for Children's Issues within the Baltic Sea Region. The WGCC shall, among other things, identify, support and implement cooperation on children at risk with the states and the organisations in the region. From 1 March 2002 a Children's Unit is integrated in the Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.