The Czech government’s Human Rights Council is to ask legislators to pass new laws preventing children younger than seven from ending up in institutionalized care. Instead, at risk or unwanted children will be placed in family or foster homes, with institutionalization only occurring as a last resort.
The government’s council for human rights is pushing for an amendment to the law which would prevent children under the age of seven being placed in institutionalized care. According to a proposal which the government is to debate early next year care for young children should be provided by surrogate families. The Czech Republic has long been criticised by child rights organisations for the excessively high number of children placed in institutions.
For the third year now children of Czech origin living abroad are taking part in a competition that aims to help them connect with their roots. The Czech Honza competition, named after a popular Czech fairytale character who went out into the world to come back much wiser, is the brainchild of Iva Crookston, who has lived in the US for over ten years. I talked to Iva about the project and first asked her how the idea of holding a competition for Czech children abroad emerged.
While women in the Czech Republic enjoy one of the longest paid parental leaves in Europe, the generous policy also presents some serious drawbacks. A new study carried out by Gender Studies organisation along with CERGE and Sociological Institute shows that a significant number of women find it impossible to return to the labour market after spending up to four years at home with their children.
A growing number of parents are refusing to get their childen vaccinated against serious childhood illnesses, the president of the Czech Association of Pediatricians Alena Sebkova told the ctk news agency. She said parents often fear the side-effects of the vaccine more than the illness itself. In such cases doctors have parents sign a form saying they take responsibility for the risks involved. Dr. Sebkova said that this trend could have serious consequences in that it might bring back eradicated diseases.
The Constitutional Court will examine whether hospitals have the right to charge fathers for being present at the birth of their children. This follows a complaint by lawyer Martin Cypris who says the payments demanded are illegal. Some hospitals have stopped charging fathers who want to be p[resent at births following a 2012 law on hospital services. Some hospitals though have continued the practice. Courts in the past have ruled both for families and hospitals on the question. The health minister has defended charges, but only if the really reflect extra costs.
The Norwegian Ambassador to Prague Siri Ellen Sletner has said that the Norwegian courts will act as speedily as possible in dealing with the case of the Michalák brothers and the family will be able to make use of all the legal services Norway offers in such circumstances. Ms Michaláková lost the right to have regular contact with her children on the suspicion of past sexual abuse but the allegations were never proven in court. Recently, the Norwegian authorities ruled the younger child could be adopted by his foster parents and that the mother would no longer be allowed even limited access to the older boy. The decision has triggered strong criticism from the Czech authorities. The children’s mother has said she would explore all avenues of appeal in Norway and if that fails to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. The Norwegian ambassador expressed the hope that the controversial case would not damage the two countries’ good relations.
This weekend will see the launch of a nationwide-police operation aimed at curbing underage drinking. Police offers, paramedics and members of the Czech Trade Inspection Office will be making inspections of pubs, bars and restaurants around the country to make sure alcohol is not being sold to adolescents. The inspections should continue until the end of the year. Alcohol abuse among teenagers has increased by 100 percent in the past 20 years and the Czech Republic now tops the European ladder in underage drinking.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has signed a diplomatic note in protest at the Norwegian authorities, who decided to place in adoption the six-year-old son of Czech woman Eva Michaláková. She has also been barred from having any contact with her second son, who is 10. The note will be handed over to the Norwegian embassy on Wednesday afternoon. Speaking on Tuesday night, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the country’s social affairs minister would seek an explanation from the Norwegian authorities on the ruling, which Prague says reneged on a previous agreement. The government has also encouraged Mrs. Michaláková to explore all avenues of appeal in Norway and if that fails to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
Czech teachers and psychologists are ringing alarm bells over the growing number of children addicted to the Internet and smartphones. Out of some 120 kids admitted to the Addiction Clinic for children and youth at the General Teaching Hospital in the first year of its existence, every fourth showed symptoms of digital addiction.
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