Rasmusson (2011) Children’s Advocacy Centers (Barnahus) in Sweden: Experiences of Children and Parents

This article is based on an evaluation of Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) in six municipalities in Sweden 2006–2007. The study concerned cooperation between different authorities (police, social services, public prosecutor, forensic medicine, pediatrics and child psychiatry) responsible for children who were suspected of being exposed to sexual or physical abuse. It is anticipated that use of CACs will improve the quality of investigations and that the legal process should thus be facilitated and rendered more effective. Qualitative interviews were carried out with 12 children and 22 parents at the different centers. Interviews included their experiences regarding the place and the premises, the treatment, earlier contacts with professionals, information and access to treatment and support. The results show that both children and parents appreciated the child—friendly and safe environment and the kind treatment by the staff. Information from the professionals was of crucial importance. The different processes taking place in connection with interrogation and assessments were potentially (at times) difficult to understand. It was at times difficult for the professional actors to take both the children’s, the parents’ and the families’ perspectives into consideration especially in relation to the suspected offenders. Voices from children and parents have contributed to deepened understanding about the complexity in applying a child—centered approach and a child perspective within the domain of child protection. The evaluation generated important knowledge with implications for practice and further development of Children’s advocacy centers.

Back to Resources