Children-Friendly Europe Conference

  • Date: 6.4.2009 — 7.4.2009
  • Venue: Prague - Czech Republic
  • Category: Conferences and Seminars
  • Theme: General Affairs and External Relations

On 6–7 April 2009, the Prague Congress Centre hosted “Child-Friendly Europe”, a Presidency conference on children’s rights held under the patronage of Michael Kocáb, the Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities.

The conference sought to contribute to the promotion of children's rights and enhance the protection of children against various forms of violence and danger in today's society. At the invitation of Michael Kocáb, the Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities, the conference was attended by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and a leading figure in the field of children's rights, Jadranka Kosor, the Croatian Vice Prime Minister, Anne-Sophie Grouchka-Souhaité, the adviser to the Secretary of State for Family Affairs at the French Ministry of Labour, Labour Relations, the Family, Solidarity and Urban Affairs, Karin Johansson, the State Secretary for Family Affairs at the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Ján Figeľ, the European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, and representatives of the ministries of other European countries, along with children's ombudsmen from European countries and other Czech and European experts, such as Professor Jan Sokol, the well-known media expert Professor Jan Jirák, MP and Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Czech Republic Anna Čurdová, and former Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities, Džamila Stehlíková.

The conference discussed three key areas in the life of children. The first was the subject of media and children, because the media profoundly influence the development and lives of children. Children and their parents must be aware of the current media and the risks associated with their content. This part of the conference included a workshop called “Safe Internet Roadmap for Parents”, which essentially implements a recommendation by the International Online Charter to educate parents, who can make a significant contribution to their children’s online safety.
The second theme was human rights education and child protection. Research shows that there is little understanding of children’s rights. However, in some schools and in the non-profit sector there are exemplary projects of non-formal human rights education. Examples include a project by Amnesty International and the human rights education presented at a workshop by Matěj Šefrna from the Litomyšl Post-Secondary Teaching College.

The third theme was positive education aimed at training children to be independent and responsible while respecting their own and other people’s personalities. The results of Czech studies showing that the opening of this topic had generated greater interest among parents in education, knowledge and awareness of positive education were presented. A workshop on Effective Parenting Step by Step, organised by the Brno Centre for Families, presented an example of a positive education course for parents.

In their conclusions, the conference delegates recommended that European countries should take into account, in their policies, the best interests of children and ensure respect for their rights, including the rights of children with disabilities, from minorities, or who are socially excluded. European countries should engage in a more intensive exchange of their experience of children's issues and establish the institution of a children's ombudsman. Awareness of children’s rights, positive parenting and the social skills of parents, together with media education of parents and children regarding safe access to modern media (television and the Internet) should be developed in society. Finally, they recommended close cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe in protecting and promoting children's rights and the establishment of policies relating to children.

The conference was attended by the Children's Press Agency; an accompanying programme was prepared by students of the Prague Conservatoire, the Bruncvík Boys’ Choir, and the Roma ensemble CIKNE ČHAVE. The conference was moderated by Václav Žmolík and students from two Prague foreign-language schools in English and French.

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