Concerns and risks related to children to be addressed at conference

On Tuesday, 26 November, the Tallinn Social Welfare and Healthcare Department will hold the tenth citywide conference “Safe Tallinn” at the Viru Hotel Conference Centre to address topics related to children.

According to Deputy Mayor Betina Beškina, this year’s conference focuses on our most precious asset - children. “Even though children have never been valued as much as now our children are currently at a greater risk than ever,” said Beškina. “The City of Tallinn finds that ensuring the welfare of children is a priority. For example, the Sports and Youth Department has increased the number of mobile youth workers from five to nine. Their task is to establish and maintain a confidential relationship with the youth whilst supporting, motivating and guiding them. As for the social welfare sector, we have increased the number of child protection workers year after year - today there are about 70 of them as compared to 12 workers twelve years ago.”  

Each district has a Child Protection Committee tasked with counselling and supporting the Social Welfare Divisions of District Governments in solving complex cases. The Committees involve specialists from various fields to allow implementing a variety of measures for assisting young people. Next year the city will reinstate the Roundtable of Children and Families to discuss problems and challenges that the city should address to improve child welfare.

“I am convinced that the restrictions on alcohol sales envisaged by the city safeguard the welfare and interests of children,” noted the Deputy Mayor. “Alcohol abuse has negative consequences not just for drinkers but also for their family members and eventually the entire society. Unfortunately, this problem affects children severely. Research indicates that only a half of 15-16-year-olds do not consume alcohol whereas the number of youngsters getting intoxicated is increasing.”

The conference will address a survey involving students aged 15-16 that was conducted by the Tallinn Social Welfare and Healthcare Department in coordination with Health at Schools of Tallinn - a foundation. The survey revealed that children face many problems like bullying, domestic violence, addictive substances and excessive consumption of social media - to name a few.

The conference speakers include specialists from universities, Ministries, the Northern Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board, Tallinn Sports and Youth Department, a clinical psychologist from the Mental Health Centre for Children of the Tallinn Children’s Hospital, and a representative of their family physician centre.