Welcoming speech at ISPCAN Congress „Child protection for the most vulnerable children and families“
in Tallinn 13 June 2022 by Chancellor of Justice Prof. Ülle Madise
Dear president Kaljulaid, members of the ISPCAN family, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to Tallinn. I am honored to be a part of this event.
The Congress theme "Child Protection for the Most Vulnerable Children and Families" could not be more relevant. Children and families in Europe were only beginning to recover from the damage caused by the COVID pandemic and the restrictions imposed by countries when Russia attacked Ukarine and started a war in Europe.
Hundreds of children have been killed in this war, thousands have been wounded and millions have been forced to flee their homes. We, as professionals whose mission is to protect children from violence, should join in our efforts to help these children and families and to support Ukraine. I am pleased to see a workshop on refugee and migration crisis management taking place on Thursday, where experiences and best practices can be shared.
There will also be a session on the learnings of the COVID pandemic. Analyzes of both good practice and the mistakes we have made are essential if we are to be smarter and better prepared for future crises. Restrictions may be based on facts and scientific evidence, not beliefs or polls. Researchers have an important role to play here.
What we already know is that vulnerable groups, including children, were most affected by the pandemic and the restrictions. Current research and our experience show that the COVID-19 pandemic with its associated problems (e.g. restrictions, social isolation, loneliness, lack of physical exercise, parenting and family stress) has negatively impacted the well-being and mental health of children and adolescents all around the world. The ISPCAN Congress in Tallinn is an ideal place to exchange the latest information and best practices to solve this complex problem.
When talking about children's rights and finding the best ways to protect them from harm, we should always listen carefully to what children themselves are saying about it. As Ombudsman for Children, I am extremely pleased that children and young people are part of this congress. At the Wendesday Youth Forum, they can share their thoughts and ideas on how to better involve children in policy-making.
When discussing all the challenging topics offered by the program, don't forget what psychologists and family therapists have said: "You must have your own cup full before you can help others." So enjoy the social program the organizers have prepared for you and everything our beautiful city has to offer. You could not have chosen a better time to visit Estonia, because at this time of the year we are celebrating the victory of light over darkness. In June we have the longest days and the shortest nights and the city is booming. Why not watch the sunrise. It will happen tomorrow morning at four minutes past four.
Finally, I would like to thank each member of the organizing team for making this congress a reality. Special thanks to Congress Chair Diahann Gordon Harrison, Co-Chair Brit Tammiste and the executive director of ISPCAN Pragathi Tummala for their significant contributions.
I will end with a quote from an eight-year-old boy from Scotland who was asked to describe children's rights in just one sentence. He said, "Children have rights, dinosaurs didn't, and they died out."
I wish you all an inspiring congress and a memorable stay in Tallinn.