About the Project

Around 19% of the patients who seek help from childhood mental health centres are witnesses of domestic violence. Part of the children who attend mental health clinics and paediatric departments in European Hospitals are hidden victims or witnesses of domestic violence but receive a wrong diagnosis and violence is not tagged in those cases. This fact explained because symptoms of childhood traumatic stress can be confused with the symptomatology of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), neurological or developmental disorders.

About the Project

Around 19% of the patients who seek help from childhood mental health centres are witnesses of domestic violence. Part of the children who attend mental health clinics and paediatric departments in European Hospitals are hidden victims or witnesses of domestic violence but receive a wrong diagnosis and violence is not tagged in those cases. This fact explained because symptoms of childhood traumatic stress can be confused with the symptomatology of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), neurological or developmental disorders.

SAVE project (Support and treatment of traumatized children After ViolencE) works to improve the abilities of medical professionals to correctly identify child witnesses or victims of violence, both emotionally and behaviourally, and thus be able to make a proper approach. It will also work to improve family assistance with a program of support appropriate for each situation.
The project also tries to reinforce cooperation between health care centres and authorities to ensure reporting and an effective intervention as soon as the domestic violence is detected. SAVE project will address this gap by informing health professionals on the EU and national legislation on the field and how to report crimes.

Work Packages

WP1 – Management and coordination of the project:

Leader: HSJD

This is a transversal WP that will deal with daily project coordination, technical, financial and administrative management on a day-to-day basis and its interactions with the project partners and the European Commission.

WP2 – Training of health professionals:

Leader: OPBG

This WP will develop and implement a training programme for health professionals starting from three everyday needs of partners:

a. Lack of skills to identify when a child was a victim.

b. Lack of skills to distinguish hyperactivity cluster of ADHD from hyperarousal post-traumatic symptoms after violence.

c. Lack of knowledge of EU legislation and instruments.

Following these needs, the consortium will design and implement a pilot training programme. Training methodology: presentation of clinical cases; practical exercises; illustration of anamnesis and structures of families’ interviews to understand if the child was victim or witness of violence; simulation of treatments to foster a learning- by-doing approach; professional cases analysed by learners in groups (team-working); analysis of medical protocols; analysis of legislation and reporting instruments. Key feature of the training is to allow professionals to identify violence in children in primary care centres and out-patient mental health centres through a double intervention on parents and children and by using, for example, the following diagnostic tools: WAST questionnaire (Women Abuse Screening Tool) – used by HSJD for the universal detection of domestic violence (including on children), anamnesis, interviews with parents, analysis of the family context (six basic dimensions of family functioning).

WP2 – Training of health professionals:

Leader: OPBG

This WP will develop and implement a training programme for health professionals starting from three everyday needs of partners:

a. Lack of skills to identify when a child was a victim.

b. Lack of skills to distinguish hyperactivity cluster of ADHD from hyperarousal post-traumatic symptoms after violence.

c. Lack of knowledge of EU legislation and instruments.

Following these needs, the consortium will design and implement a pilot training programme. Training methodology: presentation of clinical cases; practical exercises; illustration of anamnesis and structures of families’ interviews to understand if the child was victim or witness of violence; simulation of treatments to foster a learning- by-doing approach; professional cases analysed by learners in groups (team-working); analysis of medical protocols; analysis of legislation and reporting instruments. Key feature of the training is to allow professionals to identify violence in children in primary care centres and out-patient mental health centres through a double intervention on parents and children and by using, for example, the following diagnostic tools: WAST questionnaire (Women Abuse Screening Tool) – used by HSJD for the universal detection of domestic violence (including on children), anamnesis, interviews with parents, analysis of the family context (six basic dimensions of family functioning).

WP4 – Dissemination and sustainability

Leader: HSJD

This WP will be implemented through the entire project lifetime.

It will promote the dissemination of project results and outputs to key stakeholders at the local, national and European levels. Thus, communication and dissemination of project activities and results will be emphasised throughout the project ́s duration to a broad audience with support from the production of different but complementary sets of outputs. The project website will be launched right at the beginning of the project, newsletters will be distributed, and communication through social media will be carried out. Results will also be presented to a specific audience during national workshops and a European conference. A key element to ensure permanent information to the public – about legal, social, and psychological issues linked with child violence – is the setting up of a network of SAVE help desks inside the partner organisations. This model is based on the “Anti-violence helpdesk” of FIF, which runs a Centre for the Assistance of persons at risk of violence. The SAVE help desks will integrate a group of professionals, including lawyers, psychologists, social workers and civil servants.

WP3 – Post-Trauma Support Programme for children victims of domestic Violence and Family member

Leader: HSJD

The focus will be the implementation of a post-violence treatment for 4-17-year-old children who attend outpatient mental health clinics and paediatric wards, as well as their parents. The procedure will be on two levels: individual psychotherapy and group therapy based in the intervention designed and published by the HSJD coordinator: Manual of the Emotion Regulation and Interpersonal Group Therapy (MERIT) for children and adolescents witnessing domestic violence. The intervention based on ‘Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation’ (STAIR), developed for the treatment of adult patients who were victims of abuse in childhood.

On the other hand SAVE, thanks to the expertise of the partner OPBG, will identify a family-run profile will be made through the “McMaster Model of Family Functioning” – MMFF model.

The family members’ treatment will intervene on the underlying structure on which the violent experience arises, on the emotional reactions resulting from violence, on the management of aggression, fear, depression and will work on the recovery of parental responsibilities. This intervention on family members consists of 14 sessions of 1 hour, once a week: 2 assessment sessions, 11 therapeutic sessions and one final retesting session.

These therapeutic programmes will be accompanied by two activities: workshops for family members on EU tools available to protect victims of violence and design of a cooperation protocol with public authorities. This protocol will describe how to proceed and which authorities to contact in case of abuse with transnational effects, for example, when the victims are children in migration.

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