From couple therapy for adolescents to criminal records for volunteers in contact with minors: the proposals of the Guarantor against abuse

From couple therapy for adolescents to criminal records for volunteers in contact with minors: the proposals of the Guarantor against abuse

From the mandatory criminal record for volunteers in contact with minors to emotional education already in primary schools, a much debated topic these days after the murder of Giulia Cecchettin. Again: from couples therapy starting from adolescence to an organic law against violence. These are just some of the proposals on the subject of teen dating violence that were presented this morning by the Guarantor for Minors Carla Garlatti on the occasion of International Day for the Rights of the Child.

Records for volunteers

One of the first proposals put forward is precisely that of requiring volunteers who deal with minors to have a criminal record. “When faced with violence against minors, at least let’s avoid the avoidable. Anyone who has committed sexual crimes – explains Garlatti – cannot carry out activities in contact with children and young people: even those who volunteer in continuous contact with minors must present the criminal record certificate, regardless of the existence of an employment relationship. I am talking about those who carry out voluntary activities in aggregation centers for minors such as oratories, gyms, playgrounds, associations, meeting places, summer camps and still others.”

Educate in affectivity

“It was March 8, 2021, I had only recently been a guarantor, when I started asking for the introduction of courses in affective education, gender equality and respect in schools, the Istanbul Convention also says so and the problem emerges.” Garlatti explained that he had been asking for years for the introduction of this course which is being debated so much these days. “There is no need to tighten the penalties, which is certainly useful because it is right for those who have committed a crime to be punished, but we need to invest a lot in prevention. Events like those of poor Giulia must not happen. There are various forms of prevention and one is of education in schools”.

Gender-based violence among adolescents

Gender violence, explained the Guarantor, also concerns teenage couples. The phenomenon, which takes the name of teen dating violence, manifests itself in many ways. Isolation from the context of life, scenes of jealousy, pressure to have sexual intercourse, reading messages on the cell phone, conditioning on the way one dresses and behaves. Kids don’t always realize that this is a form of violence. A university study conducted in Friuli-Venezia Giulia revealed that more than one in ten girls between the ages of 15 and 19 has had an experience of violence in a couple. “When it comes to gender violence, adolescents require particular attention due to their peculiarities and their languages”, points out Garlatti.

Ad hoc anti-violence centers

Again the Guarantor explains that anti-violence centers should also be there for adolescents, not just for adults. “Specific anti-violence centers should be promoted throughout the territory, in network with existing services, in which girls and boys can receive support and information suited to their age from specialized personnel. Furthermore, I am thinking of a self-assessment questionnaire, which can be filled out online anonymously by girls and boys, to discover and understand the seriousness of their situation and identify ways to deal with violence in couples. Something similar to the Isa system, Increasing Self Awareness, reserved for adults”.

The submerged

Another problem, which is not secondary, concerns the undeclared economy: “there are reporting systems for minors – explains Garlatti – but we need to do more and better, following a recommendation from the Council of Europe last September”. Furthermore, according to the Guarantor Authority, there is a lack of services that explain the importance and purpose of a report, while tools must be introduced to “promote and simplify the mechanisms” and uniform reporting protocols are also needed at national level, keeping distinct the characteristics of each work or volunteering environment and it must be clarified when to report, who must report, how and to whom to do so. It would then be necessary to support those who must report with advice and, above all, guarantee those who report anonymity in the environment in which the event occurred, where this is possible.

The example of Spain

“However, I intend to go further: starting from what has been done in Spain – concludes the Guarantor – we could discuss and evaluate the hypothesis of introducing a reporting obligation for anyone who intercepts serious signs of violence against minors. At the same time this obligation should ‘strengthened’ for those who carry out a regular activity in contact with children and young people, be they for example entertainers, sports instructors or volunteers”.


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