140,000 Hungarian children at risk of being taken away from their families

September 21, 2016

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In Hungary today 23,000 children live under state protection and another 140,000 are at risk of being taken away from their families.

Reasons for putting children into state custody include alcoholism or drug addiction on the part of one or both parents, inability to provide for the children’s well-being, and sexual, physical or psychological abuse.

A recent survey prepared on the occasion of World Children’s Day determined that of the greatest traumas children experience, child prostitution ranks highest, followed by sexual violence and the death of a parent.  Physical and psychological abuse ranked 16th and 22nd, respectively.

The greatest fear on the part of Hungarian adults is loss of work or that they will not be able to care for their children due to sickness, according to a survey prepared by SOS children’s villages on the occasion of World Children’s Day.  The survey sought to determine what parents’ greatest fears are, what constitutes help for them in a crisis situation, who they trust, and what causes families to fall apart.

Out of 250 people interviewed, 61 percent said they feared unemployment most. Every second person said they feared sickness and every third said they feared the loss of their home.  One in eight thought it likely that they would end up in the street with their children.

In the event of family crisis, 86 percent said they depended on their parents for help, 82 percent on child psychologists, and 70 percent on a brother or sister.  The study indicated substantially lower levels of trust in municipal child protection authorities, teachers, or relatives.

In Hungary 400 children live at the SOS Children’s Village who have been separated from their families as a result of abuse, neglect, illness or the death of their parents.  They are raised by foster parents.

“The psychologist plays a key role in the life of the organization, as nearly all the children placed there have been traumatized,” says SOS psychologist Viola Szlankó. “It often takes years for children to process what happened with them.  Psychologists spend many hours with the children, and this is indispensable.”