Safe Children Project in Bulgaria

The project has been carried out by Centre for Inclusive Education since 2007 and will last till the end of 2009.


The aim of the project is to better protect vulnerable children through recognising and implementing the international "Keeping Children Safe" standards for child protection by non-governmental and governmental structures in Bulgaria who work directly with children.

Recently joining the EU, Bulgaria still has a long way to go to make protection of child rights and prevention of child abuse a reality for all children. Government measures to improve child welfare included the decentralisation of the process of delivering services. There are over 300 NGOs in Bulgaria licensed by the State Agency for Child Protection to work directly and indirectly with children. Many of them are still not sufficiently aware of the importance of building child protection measures into their work. Most of them do not have internal child protection policies and procedures developed. Existing child protection policies are tokenistic and most often remain on paper. Even non-governmental and governmental structures that have taken steps to address this need are facing challenges to becoming "child safe". There are even different understandings of what is encompassed by "child abuse". While organisations in Bulgaria need to give clear guidance to staff and partners on how child protection policy will be implied in different circumstances, they need practical guidance, tools and support materials to assist them in overcoming obstacles in tackling child protection issues in their work.

For non-governmental and governmental agencies in Bulgaria that have contact with children, some of the key issues and challenges include the fact that:

• Protection systems and codes of conduct (where available) have not been revised for years and are applied formally thus leaving staff facing complex child protection dilemmas.
• There is little common understanding across structures of child protection issues, practice standards or implications of these in the organisational context.
• Unawareness that children may be at risk of abuse not only from individuals in the families and communities they live in, but also from agency staff, volunteers and other organisation representatives and officials.
• There are so many huge differences between child protection standards and practices (where present) of different organisations that they do not co-operate at all.

For organisations in Bulgaria there is a need to develop a common understanding of child protection issues, induction courses for staff and good practice across the complex areas in which they operate and thereby significantly strengthen child protection systems and decrease the number of child abuse referrals/complaints/incidents in long-term perspective. There are simple policies and procedures which, if put in place, will make sure that children, organisation representatives and organisations themselves are protected.

These are three main advantages of implementing child protection standards:

• Children are protected
Following the standards minimises the risk to children of sexual abuse and exploitation
• Organisation representatives are protected
All representatives are trained and clear about how they are expected to behave with children and what to do if there are concerns about the safety of a child.
• The organisation is protected

Implementing the standards enables organisations to move towards the best practice in the area and most important of all, to deter potential abusers from joining the organisation.


Centre for Inclusive Education is a Bulgarian non-governmental organization, which main aim is to promote inclusive education and make it happen for every child. CIE continues the 10-year work of Save the Children UK in Bulgaria on inclusive education for children with special educational needs in the mainstream school system and child protection.

Submitted by admin on Wed, 2009-05-06 09:01.