Slovakia is at the heart of the whirlpool of the communist past and a reunified Europe. I was delighted to welcome specialist particpants from so many different cultures and experiences to my country, both as a mother and as a doctor at the Child Psychiatry Hospital of Bratislava. This meeting identified ways of ensuring that a child would keep happy memories of childhood and would not allow traumatic experiences of war and terrorism to harm their adult life.
It was held symbolically in the Slovak Academy of Sciences Castle of Smolenice – just the place where, in a child's fairytale, the king and queen will live happily ever after in a perfect world when the forces of good have overcome the forces of evil… But can this ideal ever come true?
A life at peace is the basis for the success of every human endeavor. Unfortunately, this peace is threatened by wars, ideological extremism, the class struggle, political conflict, terrorism, rape, murder, injustice… in Slovakia and many countires, by the sudden economic changes of transition … and, everywhere in the world, man's unbridled desire for power over other men…
NATO was founded to maintain peace in Europe – and now beyond – at the same time as the Mouvement Mondial des Mères/World Movement of Mothers. The MMM helps mothers fulfil all their responsibilities, particularly building peace, in the family and outside the home. Thanks to these two organisations this meeting developed ways in which a child's fairytale future might come true…
Anna Kovacova, MuDr, NATO Partner Co-Director
Prevention of violence to children and the protection of their rights is the duty of every adult. But most adults do not know how to offer appropriate support. This meeting, which brought together for the first time scientists and lay people with practical experience, looked not only at practical measures to engage and train concerned adults and adolescents, but also at changing the attitudes which lead to the abuse of children. As a Belgian, trying to come to terms with the discovery of a paedophile network in the heart our society, I feel very strongly the need for coordinated local, national and international initiatives and guidelines to prevent and remedy trauma to children.
Mia Vanderhasselt, NATO Co-Director