Approved by Spain’s Cabinet in June, the legislation introduces comprehensive protocols to prevent violence against children and adolescents and to fight impunity in all places where children are present. Educational, sports and leisure facilities need to train all staff respectively and assign one person to specifically oversee protection of children from violence.
The draft bill, which has to be approved by the Spanish Parliament, also makes it mandatory for anyone to report signs of violence against children and extends the statute of limitations on the most serious crimes.
SOS Children’s Villages Spain as part of the Plataforma de Infancia (childhood platform), a coalition of child-focused organizations, has advocated for years to see the legislation become reality to bring about structural change in fighting violence against children.
Pedro Puig, President of SOS Children’s Villages Spain, highlighted the comprehensive approach of the legislation: “It covers all areas of the child's life - family, education, health, justice administration, sports and technology - and involves all citizens in the task of protecting children from violence,” he stated. “Child protection is not just a political and social responsibility, but also a moral obligation and, once this law is approved, it will also be a legal requirement,” he added.
In the context of advocating for the legislation, SOS Children’s Villages Spain also called for special measures for children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care, given their specific situation and vulnerability, as well as increasing investment in family strengthening programmes that prevent family breakdown.
Representatives of the governing Socialist Party (PSOE) and the left Unidas Podemos alliance also refer to the law as “Rhodes Law,” in recognition of the British concert pianist James Rhodes, living in Spain, who suffered abuse as a child and advocates to address violence against children.
Children who have suffered violence will receive improved protection. Children under 14 and people with disabilities will only have to give a statement during the court investigation.
The law also foresees special training on how to deal with child abuse for representatives of local, regional and national law enforcement agencies.
Other new protocols include crimes online, bullying at schools, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, gender violence, domestic violence, and incitement to self-harm.
More information on the Spanish child rights coalition Plataforma de Infancia is available in Spanish at: https://plataformadeinfancia.org/
The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children: https://www.end-violence.org/