The NCC’s Child Victim Assistance Center for child victim of sexual and violent crime is a unique and important program, established in 1998 to provide support for children and youth who are victims of sexual or violent crime, by providing them and their families with information, support, consultation, assistance, and to mediate between the child and his or her family and the various professional entities handling the case.
Child and youth victims face unique difficulties and challenges throughout the criminal procedure. The law enforcement system and the legal system are not adapted to their needs and children often find themselves during an unfamiliar procedure, without any knowledge on the proceedings, their rules, and the roles of the various professional entities involved. In many cases, children and their parents are not aware of the processes behind decisions that will have a crucial effect on their lives and are left with many questions and no one to consult with. This, in addition to the trauma they are already suffering due to the offence perpetrated on them.
Considering these circumstances, and in order to assist the child victims and mitigate other damages that may derive from the investigation and legal procedures themselves, the NCC established the Child Victim Assistance Center.
As part of the Center’s work, volunteers accompany the children and their families throughout the criminal proceedings and serve as an available and constant source of support. The volunteers are in regular contact with the law enforcement entities (police officers, Attorney’s Office) and the other entities involved in the proceedings (protection centers, welfare professionals, educational institutions, treatment centers, and more). The Center is responsible to notify the children and their families about the development of proceedings in their case, make the procedures accessible to them using child-friendly and understandable language, and assists children and their families in exercising rights. In addition, the Center’s volunteers accompany the children to preparatory meetings at the State Attorney’s Office and if the children are called upon to testify in court, take them on a preliminary tour of the court, explain the stages of the testimony procedure to alleviate fear, and accompany them during testimony.
The program is managed by a lawyer and a social worker on behalf of the NCC, who is responsible for the recruitment of volunteers and their training by a multidisciplinary staff which includes lawyers and social workers. The program volunteers are law students (most of them are in programs that combine studies in therapeutic fields such as social work, psychology, and criminology), who underwent designated training in the field of child victims of crime.
Each year, the Child Victim Assistance Center provides assistance and support to ~ 400 children and their families.