Mr Palm's speech during the round table on extending Child Protection Units in Municipality Units of Tirana held on 14 May 2013
I am speaking on behalf of several agencies, including Terres des Hommes, Save the Children, World Vision, Arsis and of course UNICEF. I am sure that each of agency representatives will also say something later. I like to assure the officials from the municipalities, that these agencies are the best partners that you can get to strengthen your administration when it comes to social issues.
We are here to discuss the next steps in relation to the decision by the Tirana municipal council to approve the budget for the establishment of a child protection unit in every Tirana municipality.
This was part of a deal that we made with the mayor. Tirana provides the budget for the posts, and we – the development partners – help you to put it to good use. So the new units become an effective and efficient way to support vulnerable children.
Why is this important? Let me explain.
We here in the room have been successful in life. We have grown up in good families. We went to school and probably did well. Our families supported us when we were looking for a job, or wanted to get more education, or opened a business. We are well connected. We know politics. We know how to solve problems. We are privileged.
The truth of the matter is that children from less privileged families do not grow up in such a protected environment. We cannot blame the children for having a father who is not earning enough. Or a mother who doesn’t know what’s best for her child. Just because a child is born into bad circumstances is not a reason that the child should remain poor, or uneducated, or get abused.
We all are in public office. Our concern is no longer just our own family, but the people of our municipality. If a child lives in a defunct family, and nobody else is paying attention, the municipality is the family that the child does not have. It doesn’t take much to protect the child, but it needs a dedicated Child Protection worker.
We all know how to help ourselves. Most poor people don’t know how to help themselves. Poor people often don’t get a service, even if that service is meant to be for free. We all know that.
We don’t ask for much. You got the budget for the post, you need to provide the office. We will help your new staff to do a good job. So that even children in difficult circumstance have a fair chance to be protected and enjoy the opportunities that we all had.
There is plenty of evidence that if we do not invest in children who are poor, it is not only bad for those children, but for all of us. Unequal societies are not only bad for the poor, they are also bad for the rest of us. More crime, lost opportunities, more social problems.
One word about the nature of the job. My colleagues will elaborate. A child protection worker is a specialist. Not everyone can do this job. A child protection worker helps the individual child to reconnect to the rest of the world, and obtain the support from the medical, and education, or law enforcement professions. A child protection worker manages each individual case, until resolved. It is a tough job.
I urge that when these posts are filled, we get the right people. We will help to train the candidates, but you need to hire people with the right attitudes, professionalism and empathy.