in Europe

Interview with researcher Szilvia Gyurkó


In the framework of the Mario project, Hungarian researchers Szilvia Gyurko and Barbara Nemeth conducted a study on the ability of the Hungarian child protection system (CPS) to protect children on the move (CoM) . In the following interview Szilvia describes the main research findings and their recommendations both for Terre des hommes and for Hungary.
Why was this research on the ability of the Hungarian child protection system to protect CoM important for Hungary?
SzGy: First of all there are only a few researches in this field, so we are very grateful for every opportunity to step closer the daily practice of the child protection system. And the second and most important point is that this research has a very unique approach: the children were in the heart of the research methodology and we studied everything from their point of view. The key narratives of the research were also very unique: inclusiveness, accessibility, adequacy, efficacy are words absolutely out of the legal framework of the Hungary these days and through this research we could highlight the importance of these terms and the meaning of for example efficacy.
What were the main findings?
SzGy: The main objective of this Mario research was to analyze the good practices and also the gaps of Hungarian CPS in relation to CoM. Generally speaking it was really painful not to find really good practices but a lot of gaps were discovered. Still generally speaking (from a researcher’s angle) we faced the problem of CoM term in general: it was almost impossible to translate this term into Hungarian. It was hard to explain to the stakeholders and professionals who were involved into the research what CoM really means.
The most important findings of the research was that CoM should be primarily seen as children. The circumstances in which they find themselves and the challenges they face are diverse and complex, requiring multilateral, multi-sectoral, comprehensive and holistic lines of action. These children are eligible for CPS services but these services are not covering all their needs and most of them only meet the requirements for residential homes, temporary or transitional placement.
Were there any unexpected, surprising findings?
SzGy: Not really, however It was really clear in the research that – from the children’s point of view – they rarely demonstrate that they are aware of the risks or that they care about their safety. This makes them even more vulnerable. Professionals helping CoM are often mislead by the appearance of mature, independent looking children and get the wrong idea about their need for help.
Through this research it is very clear that children’s vulnerability is rooted in their safety and emotional needs. And CoM really need safe and adequate answers to their emotional needs from the child protection system.
What do you think are the most urgent action in Hungary?
SzGy:There is a need for more systematic research on the effectiveness and adequacy of CPS and the characteristics of CoM, as there is hardly any high-quality research in this field. The best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration: after this research, we believe that implementing a child rights based approach in all actions is a real urgent need. Proper translation, multi-sectorial consensus and raising awareness on CoM (the term), available information about CPS for every child (in every possible language) in an easily accessible way.
What is your recommendation for Terre des hommes to do to raise awareness about Children on the Move?
Sz.Gy: This research (its findings, the report) is only a tool. Tdh should use this tool to raise awareness about the term of CoM itself and convince policy makers and relevant stakeholders about the importance of CoM and CPS-related issues.