Project promoted by The National Commission for the Promotion of the Rights and the Protection of Children and Young People (CNPDPCJ)
Break the intergenerational cycle of violence
Children affected by domestic violence are often understood as “secondary” victims, either within the support and legal system or by entities that work with children and young people.
The numerous studies carried out are unequivocal regarding the damage caused to child victims and refer to the intergenerational transmission of violence, serious psychological, health, behavioural and socioeconomic impacts. In homicide situations, this impact is brutal and the lives of children and families change in an indelible way.
Early and qualified intervention is essential to break the cycle of domestic violence!
It is imperative to protect children and young people against all forms of violence, physical or mental, harm or abuse, neglect, violence against women and domestic violence, ill-treatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.
The National Commission for the Promotion of the Rights and Protection of Children and Young People (CNPDPCJ), as a reference entity for the effective realization of the Human Rights of each and every child in Portugal, contributes to the planning of State intervention and to the coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the action of public bodies and the community, in promoting the rights and protection of children and young people.
In this context, By Your Side was born, a pilot project, promoted by CNPDPCJ, with funding from EEAGrants and with the participation of the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality as program operator, which as implemented and tested actions in the protection system in the territories of Amadora, Loures, Seixal, Faro and Loulé.
Its main objectives are:
• Support and respond to children, on the day(s) following the episode of domestic violence recorded by the police or another party, in conjunction with their family members, taking into account that the aggressor is normally part of this family unit.
• Develop preventive action against the normalization of gender-based violence and break cycles of victimization and aggression.
• Create specialized care for children who lose their parents or legal guardians as a result of homicide in the context of domestic violence.
• Develop a coordinated intervention between the national child and youth protection system and the national support network for victims of domestic violence, within the scope of their respective competencies.
The project’s national partners are:
GNR - National Republican Guard
PSP – Public Security Police
ISCTE-IUL – University Institute of Lisbon
DGE – General Directorate of Education
DGS - General Directorate of Health
ISS, IP – Social Security Institute
OPP – Order of Portuguese Psychologists
The Stine Sofies Foundation is the international partner.
The launching of the Project By Your Side took place on April 28th, 2022, at the Lisbon Urban Information Center (CIUL) and was attended by around 100 people.
The closing session took place on November 30th in the Auditorium 1 of the Judiciary Police and was attended by around 300 participants.
The first training session on the By Your Side project took place in Loures, on June 27th, where there were, in total, 53 people from the GNR and PSP security forces, from the Commission for the Protection of Children and Young People (CPCJ) of Loures and the Municipal Schools that are a part of the project's intervention, as well as the Espaço Vida de Loures (Space Life Loures) team.
Two training sessions were held on the 6th and 7th of July 2022 for its implementation in the territories of Faro and Loulé. These actions were promoted by the project team: Amélia Carneiro from CNPDPCJ, António Castanho from the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI) and representative on the CNPDPCJ National Council, Joana Alexandre and Sofia Oliveira, from ISCTE, the entity responsible for monitoring and evaluating the project. Approximately 80 professionals from the CPCJ, Schools and Security Forces were involved in both actions. These will be the main actors in the implementation of the project.
In parallel with these actions, the monitoring and monitoring of the implementation of By Your Side has continued through work sessions with the focal points identified by the partner entities involved in this implementation phase (CPCJ, Schools and Security Forces). These work sessions promote discussion and reflection on the difficulties encountered in implementing this intervention model and ways to enhance strengths and opportunities, in order to overcome obstacles, in a collaborative work logic. Since the beginning of 2023, we have had 65 professionals in these actions.
As part of the By Your Side project, the CNPDPCJ went to Iceland to promote benchmarking meetings/actions in order to share the project and to raise awareness of the Portuguese promotion and protection system.
The Portuguese team, composed of Maria João Fernandes, vice-president of the CNPDPCJ and Amélia Carneiro and Fátima Silva from the Technical Operational Team of the National Commission, learned about the model of intervention in violence against adult victims and its articulation with the Icelandic Child Protection Services.