UKE to open "Childhood House" competence centre on December 6

3 November 2021
Multidisciplinary centre for young victims or witnesses of violence

The Childhood House for child protection will open in Hamburg-Hoheluft on December 6, 2021 based on an initiative by the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), the City of Hamburg and the World Childhood Foundation. Children and adolescents who have been victims or witnesses of abuse, sexualised violence or neglect can be examined, counselled and interviewed in the child-friendly, interdisciplinary environment of the new centre.

"The main objective is to avoid re-traumatising the children and to make the investigation as child-friendly and efficient as possible," said Prof. Dr Benjamin Ondruschka, Director of the UKE's Institute of Forensic Medicine. The situation is likely to be eased through increased co-operation between medical, socio-pedagogical and psychological specialists, employees in youth welfare offices as well as police and legal authories in a central location. Until now, child victims or witnesses of a violent crime were examined by specially trained staff. Talks with the families, interviews with the children and processing of the events were held elsewhere.

Hamburg to boost cooperation between all those involved

Almost 850 examinations of children from infancy to 18 years carried out in 2020 alone at UKE's previous Child Competence Centre will now be transferred to the Childhood House. "Child protection concerns us all. We all have to ensure the protection of the youngest and weakest in our society," said Ondruschka. Melanie Leonhard, Senator for Social Affairs, said: "Children should grow up free from violence. In cases where their well-being is endangered, all those involved must look very carefully and put the protection of the children above everything else. Different stakeholders  from medical experts to youth welfare offices all over Germany play a role in such proceedings." The City of Hamburg aims to boost this co-operation.

Protected spaces for children and youths

The World Childhood Foundation has initiated Childhood Houses based on the the Scandinavian Barnahus concept ("children's house") all over Germany. Dr. Astrid Helling-Bakki, Executive Director of the World Childhood Foundation Germany, noted: "Our experience shows that the co-operation in the Childhood House has intensified and much-needed resources are created for immediate work with the children and young people concerned, so that they emerge stronger."


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