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PRECISION, a new project in Romania to support the rehabilitation of youth deprived of liberty


Children and youth in correctional facilities and detention centers in Romania have the right to a better future, but they risk being trapped in the system all their lives. At the beginning of 2020, Terre des hommes (Tdh) has started in Romania a project to help the rehabilitation of youth who are deprived of liberty. The "PRECISION: Promote Rehabilitation, Empowerment of Children and Support for Youth Offenders" project aims to give these children and youth a chance in life.

The children interviewed by Tdh said they do not have access to information, they live in poor conditions in the detention centers and do not have enough contact with the world outside. Also, their education is not encouraged or adapted to their needs, and movement and sports activities are not facilitated.

On the other hand, our research reveals that the staff in detention centers does not receive specific training on working with children. Many of them lack the necessary communication and negotiation skills, that would ensure positive relationships with the children and reduce the tensions and conflict situations, without using force. The insufficiently prepared staff in these centers diminishes children's chances to rehabilitation and reintegration, as they are usually not able to respond to children’s rights and emotional needs and to offer non-discriminatory treatment.

To address these challenges and needs, we invest in better detention conditions for the children, by providing clothing and hygiene products, and support the professional training of the staff, by helping them develop child-friendly practices. For example, we will train staff to use the Movement, Sports and Games methodology, which was developed by Tdh in 2005 and applied in various vulnerable contexts. The methodology proved successful in improving children’s resilience and self-esteem. It also offers children the space and means to express their opinions and contribute to decision making. Tdh will facilitate the social reintegration and establish a mentorship programme, which will support youth to follow vocational training in various fields, to find a job and a place to live.

At least 40 children and youth will benefit from activities, aiming to improve their psychosocial well-being and life skills, while 300 children will benefit from better living conditions in detention and child-friendly approaches and treatment applied by staff.

To promote further learning and exchanges, we will organise round tables, as well as an international conference for professionals and decision-makers.

The project is financially supported by Medicor Foundation, and is carried out between January 2020 and December 2021.