Recommendations for how SASCA's findings can be implemented at European-level were discussed at the symposium with MEPs and other stakeholders
Dr Jennifer O'Mahoney, a lecturer in psychology at WIT, recently chaired a session in Brussels in the European Parliament, presenting the results of the project which examined child abuse in institutional settings.
Dr O’Mahoney is the Irish Principal Investigator of a two-year project examining Support to Adult Survivors of Child Abuse in institutional settings (SASCA) funded by the European Commission. The SASCA project examined child abuse in institutional settings, from the perspective of adult survivors, in order to examine the long-term effects of such events trans-nationally across the partner countries.
European project partners
The project comprised of a European network of partners: Associazione Artemisia (Italy); Justice For Magdalenes (Ireland); Association victims of Il Forteto (Italy); Institute of Child Health (Greece); Waterford Institute of Technology (Ireland); Babeş-Bolyai University (Romania); Regional Government of Tuscany and the Società della Salute-Mugello (Italy).
"Our project findings demonstrate that adult survivors of institutional care, in addition to professionals in the legal and caring occupations, face difficulties in accessing the criminal justice system and mobilizing a range of legal and psychological support. These difficulties are primarily due to poor institutional responses to the survivors’ specific needs," Jennifer explains.
Protection and prevention
SASCA focused on examining how survivors of these crimes may find protection and compensation in the existing legal framework and how their experience may enlighten the design of a prevention strategy for the protection of children living today in residential care.
Recommendations for how SASCA's findings can be implemented at European-level were discussed at the symposium with MEPs and other stakeholders.
Child abuse in institutional settings is still an under-researched area in the academic literature, and has received little recognition at the EU level. The reactions of professionals, and the wider public, to disclosures of child abuse in institutional settings are often characterised by scepticism or mistrust. Victims face marked difficulties in accessing legal support and negotiating the criminal justice system, and report that institutional responses to their needs are inadequate. Thus, a clearer recognition of public responsibilities to survivors is needed, which recognise the abuses survivors of institutional abuses have experienced. A core issue for SASCA is recognising and targeting the lack of experience in dealing with these issues both nationally in the partner countries, and internationally at a European level, as the project focuses on how best to highlight the rights of survivors in seeking justice for their abuses in institutional settings.