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Support to Adult Survivors of Child Abuse in institutional settings

S.A.S.C.A. is a 24 month European project, co-financed by the Justice Programme of the EU. The project aims to examine child abuse in institutional settings, from the perspective of adult survivors, in order to understand the long term effects of such events; how and the survivors of these crimes may find protection and compensation in the existing legal framework; and how their experience may enlighten the design of a prevention strategy for the protection of children living today in residential care.


Child abuse in institutional settings is still an under-researched area in the academic literature, and has received little recognition at the EU level. The reactions of professionals, and the wider public, to disclosures of child abuse in institutional settings are often characterised by scepticism or mistrust. Victims face marked difficulties in accessing legal support and negotiating the criminal justice system, and report that institutional responses to their needs are inadequate. Thus, a clearer recognition of public responsibilities to survivors is needed, which recognise the abuses survivors of institutional abuses have experienced. A core issue for SASCA is recognising and targeting the lack of experience in dealing with these issues both nationally in the partner countries, and internationally at a European level, as the project focuses on how best to highlight the rights of survivors in seeking justice for their abuses in institutional settings.


IRELAND - Justice For Magdalenes and Waterford Institute of Technology contribute expert knowledge in researching the lived experiences of survivors of institutional trauma to the project.  Additional expertise regarding Ireland’s legal framework and JFMR’s political campaign has been used to guide to project.


GREECE – The Institute of Child Health is a governmental agency with extensive experience in the study and prevention of child abuse, professional training, and public dissemination.


ROMANIA – The Social Work Department of Babeș-Bolyai University is one of the most important national and international reference points in the research, training and prevention of child abuse.


ITALY–the project leader is the NGO Associazione Artemisia Onlus, a centre working with women and children who are victims of violence. The other Italian partners are Regione Toscana, the regional administrative body of Toscana (whose department of social policies supports initiative of violence prevention); Società della Salute del Mugello (a public consortium formed by the Health Services of the Center of Tuscany and local municipalities); Associazione delle Vittime del Forteto ( a survivor organisation formed by former residents of “Il Forteto”, who were victims of violence and abuse).

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Establishing a common framework informed by a comparative analysis of child abuse in institutional settings in the partner countries via surveys and interviews with victims, professionals, justice operators and stakeholders.


Identifying best practice for the support of adult survivors of child abuse in institutionalized contexts through the design, implementation, and assessment of a pilot model of intervention.


Promoting awareness of the essential role of public institutions in recognising the need for psychological, legal, and financial compensation.


Providing an evidence base for policy design, professional practice, and service provision to both support and prevent the occurrence of child abuse in institutional settings at national and EU-levels.

The symposium “Institutional Child Abuse: an Hidden Phenomenon Prevention, Recognition of Institutional Responsibility and Response to Victims”  (7th February 2019) at the European Parliament in Brussels.

During the symposium, SASCA's project partners presented their findings of research which examined child abuse in institutional settings from the perspective of adult survivors.

Project partners emphasised the dynamics and long-term effects of abuse and the relevance of these findings for European and international institutions.


Proposals were made to European Parliamentarians related to the need to enrich the EU legislation with specific rules and recommendations related to  the prevention of the abuse of children in institutional settings.  

A copy of SASCA's recommendations can be found here.

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