The concept of children’s houses refers to interdisciplinary measures for children suspected to be exposed to violence or sexual assault. The organization of and services offered at the children’s houses may vary between and within countries, but all children’s houses reflect the same basic idea: the professionals that are involved in such cases offer their services in one place, which has a child friendly set-up and atmosphere.
The Nordic region is in the forefront in Europe in terms of establishing the model of Children’s houses as an integrated measure for children exposed to violence and sexual assault. Iceland was the first of the Nordic countries to establish a children’s house followed by Sweden and Norway. The model is currently being implemented in Denmark and the Faroe Islands, and Finland is establishing a regional trial project in 2014. The efforts in the Nordic region have received international attention, and the model is now spreading to other European countries. Also, the children’s house models in Iceland, Sweden and Norway is pointed to as examples of “good practice” in the European Council guidelines on child friendly justice.
The implementation of the model has been studied by researchers in Iceland, Sweden and Norway, and country reports have been published. In Denmark the model will be evaluated 2-3 years following the implementation phase.
The Nordic network for children’s house research was established in February 2014 with the aim of facilitating contact between researchers and administrators with an interest in the model of children’s houses within the Nordic context, its foundational ideas, implementation, work processes, dilemmas and advances.
Other key aims of the network are:
- To establish an arena for presenting and discussing research on the children’s house model and related topics
- To facilitate comparative and joint research and publications, including applications for funding
- To be a resource for government agencies and the children’s houses
The first network meeting was held in Norway, at Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), financed by the Norwegian Department of Justice. This was a two-day meeting and participants came from all the Nordic countries, except Greenland.
A working group lead by researchers from NOVA will apply for funding for network activities, such as network meetings, workshops and the joint publication of a book on Nordic children’s house models. Details will be worked out during the application phase (spring 2014). Possible sources for funding in this first phase of the network are national research councils’ and Nordic agencies.
The primary members of the network are researchers at universities, university colleges and research institutes with an interest in Nordic children’s house models and related topics. Currently 13 researchers representing criminology, law, sociology and psychology are members. Government agencies and administrators involved in children’s house establishment and follow up on the national level may participate in the network. Administrators from Iceland, The Faroe Islands, Denmark and Finland attended the first network meeting.
Contact person: Kari Stefansen, e-mail: Kari.Stefansen@oslomet.no