An international high level conference of Safe from Harm! in Brussels (Belgium) marked the end of a 18-month project run by the European Scout Region with financial support from the DAPHNE III programme of the European Union. Speaking to more than one hundred participants at the event were Ms. Sandie Blanchet from UNICEF, Ms. Jana Hainsworth from EuroChild, Mr. Steve Lavelle from CISV and Mr. Göran Hägerdal from the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Ms Alix Massson from the European Youth Forum facilitated the meeting.
The Safe from Harm - Creating a safe environment for children and young people Project had brought together seven National Scout Associations from Europe who had worked together to address the question of harmful practices and violence against children and young people in the setting of youth organisations.
"Through non-formal education, Scouting empowers children and young people to be self-reliant citizens" explained Andrea Demarmels, Chairperson of the European Scout Committee, "Scouting is a youth movement providing a safe environment for children and young people participating in its activities. Harmful practices and violence can though happen, being in this specific environment or outside Scouting. Leaders being the primary link to children and young people, we want to raise their awareness as well as equip them with the necessary skills, knowledge and competences to prevent harmful practices within Scouting and know how to address violence happening outside the youth movement – to ensure that they will provide a safe environment."
The Conference provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the need and urgency of increasing the attention to child protection in the non-formal education sector and in youth organisations. The Safe from Harm project of the World Organization of the Scout Movement was presented as a study case.
While the current project now came to an end, this will not mean leaving this important issue aside. "We are already thinking how best to maintain the momentum built up during the past 18 months", said Nicolò Pranzini, project manager for Safe from Harm at the European Scout Office, "It is evident that we need to continue to discuss safe from harm in our Region. We also have to make sure that the issue remains high on the agenda in all our associations and eventually becomes integral part of Leader Training and Youth Programme."
The picture is the traditional "family photo" with representatives from National Scout Associations from accross Europe, including many from the seven project partners from Slovenský skauting (SK), Scouts et Guides de France (FR), ASDE Scouts de España (ES), Lietuvos skautija (LT), Movimento Scout Católico (ES), Verband Christlicher Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder (DE), Scouting Nederland (NL), and the Σώμα Προσκόπων Κύπρου (Cyprus Scouts Association, CY).