The best way to prevent a child needing help is to prevent situations which can harm the child. It is always more effective to prevent problems than to deal with consequences. Therefore it is essential to identify problems early on and take action in due course.
Prevention work, including prevention work in connection with child protection is an issue involving many sectors, which falls in the areas of government of several ministries in Estonia.
Prevention in the field of child protection in Estonia is organised by the Social Insurance Board and local governments.
According to § 6 of the Child Protection Act, the risks threatening the well-being and development of the child must be prevented. Prevention includes the perception of situations and events which threaten the child as early as possible and the reaction thereto, including the identification of the child’s development and behaviour problems, problems occurring in the family environment, identification of abuse and the increase of protective measures promoting the child’s well-being and development.
Child protection related prevention work is based on the Strategy of Children and Families 2012–2020 (Annex 2. “Public health model-based approach in prevention”). (PDF)
The Social Insurance Board coordinates prevention across different sectors (social affairs, education, health care, legal protection). To this end we carry out various prevention related activities imposed on us by law. For example, we advise local governments on the preparation of strategies that support children and families, we operate the Child Helpline, and we organise awareness-raising events and work counselling for child protection officials and partners. Read more about our services in the section Children and Families.
If you have any questions or great ideas or if you wish to cooperate with us, do not hesitate to contact our prevention manager Mari-Liis Mänd by calling 5307 1499 or writing to Mari.Liis.Mand@sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee.
Development Plans and Strategy Documents on Prevention Work Related to Children, Young People and Families
Strategy of Children and Families 2012-2020
The Strategy of Children and Families sets five strategic objectives which aim to ensure the increasing welfare of children and families and higher quality of life. The principle “To prevent problems is more efficient than to mitigate consequences” is one of the principles applied to the preparation of the Strategy. The Strategy draws attention to the problematic fact that child related work today deals rather with consequences than with roots of problems and for this reason the Strategy is centred around proactive approach and early intervention on every level. The summary of the Strategy of Children and Families clearly sets out that in case of children’s problems proactive approach and early intervention are reasonable, above all, from the children’s welfare point of view, preventing more serious problems in the future.
National Health Plan 2009–2020
The National Health Plan’s chapter “Safe and Healthy Development of Children and Adolescents” outlines, based on the phases of life, general support measures aimed at different stages of development in order to promote the sexual and reproductive health of future parents, physical and mental health and social development of children, and prevent mental health disorders, injuries, violence, chronic diseases and risk factors thereof. The description of the area points out that by paying attention to development and health disorders and their risk factors at the right time it is possible to prevent a lot of problems, and that the modern understanding of early intervention is based on the flexible cooperation between the areas of health care, social affairs and education.
Internal Security Strategy 2015–2020
Youth Field Development Plan 2014–2020
The overall goal is to ensure that young people have ample opportunities for self-development and self-realisation, which supports the formation of a cohesive and creative society. The Development Plan contributes, above all, to the objectives and actions of the Competitiveness Strategy “Estonia 2020” and the Action Programme of the Government of the Republic. The Development Plan is based on the objectives set in the youth field in Estonia and it focuses on the development of creativity, reduction of the effects of unequal conditions on the development opportunities of young people, prevention of exclusion, active involvement of young people in community life and decision-making processes, success on the labour market and high-quality youth policy and youth work. The Development Plan’s overview of the situation of young people describes as problematic trends the rise in emigration of young people, high unemployment rate in the 15–19 age group, the number of young people not engaged in studies or employment, the high relative poverty rate, problematic health behaviour, including, above all, risk behaviour of young men. Paying attention to these problematic trends means the need to focus, above all, on the causes thereof, prevention of possible consequences and decrease of undesirable effects. The continuance of positive trends is also deemed important.
Welfare Development Plan 2016–2023
The Welfare Development Plan focuses on the strategic objectives of the labour market, social protection, gender equality, and equal treatment policies for 2016–2023, giving a thorough overview of the main objectives, courses of action and problems regarding said policies. Two general objectives have been set for carrying out the Welfare Development Plan: high employment rate and a long and high-quality working life and decrease of social inequality and poverty, gender equality and greater social involvement. One of the sub-objectives of the Development Plan is to improve people’s opportunities to cope independently, live in a community and participate in society through efficient legal protection and high-quality personal assistance. The development of social services contributes to the achievement of this sub-objective. Social services are developed based on the goal to support employment, independent coping and living at home or in other words in familiar surroundings as long as possible. This means relying on the principle that prevention helps to reduce the emergence and aggravation of problems and prevent the growth of costs.
Strategy for Preventing Violence for 2015–2020
The Strategy covers the topics of violence between children, child abuse, domestic violence (including intimate partner violence), sexual violence and human trafficking. The Strategy stresses the importance of prevention, separately describing the principles of violence prevention – important, purposeful, high-quality, systematic and evidence-based cooperation. The frame document for the Strategy for Preventing Violence is the Estonian Guidelines for Development of Criminal Policy until 2018, adopted by the Riigikogu, which reflect the principles and long-term goals of policymaking and highlights as one of the priorities the prevention of crimes against persons, above all, the need to address crimes involving child victims and domestic violence.