The report, released by the Ombudsman for Children in Sweden (Barnombudsmannen – BO), details the help children receive from social services after they have been a victim of domestic crimes, such as violence and sexual abuse.
The report, named “Signals”, is based on work with 34 children who had been the victims of domestic violence or abuse, and drew conclusions based on the methods social services used to deal with the problems.
The ombudsman notes that social services are “remarkably absent” from the children’s stories and that the service is described as “slow and ignorant”.
The report called into question social services’ tendency of not asking enough questions in cases where it may be apparent that a child is subjected to mistreatment at home.
“Staff in the health and sick wards seldom ask children and young people how things are at home, even when they show clear signs that they have been victims of violence. This results in many children not getting the treatment and care that they have the right to,” said the report, according to TT news agency.
The ombudsman has hence written that social services for children need to be “fundamentally reformed” and suggested a children’s service where abused minors know they can turn to for help.
The BO proposed better training so that domestic problems are more easily perceived by staff, and they suggested legal proceedings be arranged so that it doesn’t take as long for a court hearing to occur following a complaint from a child.
The report include the a case of a woman who was molested by her father for 13 years, starting when she was only five years old, yet claimed no action was taken and that her complaints fell on deaf ears.
“The court process took five years all in all, and wasn’t done until I was 18. He wasn’t convicted for the crimes against me, but for having child pornography,” said the girl, referred to in the report as Emma, according to Sveriges Radio (SR).
Stories such as Emma’s are exactly what the BO is aiming to prevent.
“The common ground for many of the stories was that the violence could have gone on for a long time without being noticed. The children and young people have tried to give signals, but adults have not heard or understood,” the report said.