Committee on the Rights of the Child
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention
Third periodic report of States parties due in 2003
Italy *, **
[30 January 2009]
II.General measures of implementation (arts. 4; 42; and 44, para. 6)13–1156
D.National Plan of Action58–6815
E.Independent monitoring structures69–7118
G.Training/dissemination of the Convention111–11526
III.Definition of the child (art. 1)116–12527
IV.General principles (arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12)126–16629
B.Best interests of the child135–14432
C.Life, survival and development14534
D.Respect for the views of the child146–16634
V.Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7, 8, 13–17 and 37 (a))167–24339
A.Name and citizenship168–17740
B.Preservation of identity178–18643
C.Freedom of expression187–19345
D.Freedom of thought, conscience and religion194–21446
E.Freedom of association and peaceful assembly215–21751
F.Protection from arbitrary or legal interference218–22451
G.Access to appropriate information225–24253
H.The right to not be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment24357
VI.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5; 9–11; 18, paras. 1 and 2; 19–21; 25; 27, para. 4; and 39)244–41259
C.Separation from parents283–28968
E.Maintenance costs for the child29569
F.Children deprived of a family environment296–34469
H.Illegal transfers and returns360–36183
I.Violence, abuse and neglect362–41284
VII.Health and essential services (arts. 6; 18, para. 3; 23; 24; 26; and 27, paras. 1–3)413–48695
A.Survival and development413–43595
B.Children with disabilities436–43999
C.Health and health-care services440–472100
D.Social security, childcare services and structures473106
VIII.Education, cultural and leisure activities (arts. 28, 29 and 31)487–621109
A.Teaching and vocational training487–602110
B.Scope of teaching, with reference to the quality of teaching603–609127
C.Cultural, artistic and recreational activities610–621128
IX.Special protection measures (arts. 22, 30, 32–36, 37 (b)–(d) and 38–40)622–763130
A.Children in emergency situations622–650131
B.Children in the legal system651–664138
C.Children in situations of exploitation, including their physical andpsychological rehabilitation and their social reintegration665–763144
X.Programmatic indications and prospects for reform764–815160
A.General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44 (para. 6))765–797160
B.Definition of the child (art. 1)798–799164
C.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5; 9–11; 18, paras. 1 and 219; 21; 25; 27, para. 4; and 39)800–811164
D.Health and essential services (arts. 6; 18, para. 3; 23; 24; 26; and 27paras. 1–3)812–815168
XI.Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale ofchildren, child prostitution and child pornography816–950169
A.General measures of implementation817–877169
B.Prevention of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography878–882182
C.Prohibition of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography883–900183
D.Protection of the rights of child victims901–908186
E.International assistance and cooperation909–943188
F.Follow-up and dissemination944–950196
XII.Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on theinvolvement of children in armed conflict951–977197
A.General measures of implementation951–973198
B.Measures adopted with regard to disarmament, demobilization and socialreintegration974203
C.International assistance and cooperation975–976203
D.Follow-up and dissemination977204
Changes in the names of Ministries and Departments are caused by their different organizations in the various terms that followed each other in the time frame which is the object of the present report.
1.As a States party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it ratified through Law 176 of 27 May 1991, as well as to its two Optional Protocols on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, implemented by Law 46 of 11 March 2002, Italy recognizes the status of the child as entitled to rights as an individual and within the family and social community in which he lives, grows and matures.
2.Our country has therefore undertaken to ensure the full respect of the rights to which children are entitled. In accordance with articles 4 and 19 of the Convention, each State party is required to adopt: “all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the […] Convention” and in particular “all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement”.
3.This undertaking has been reinforced through participation in other international legal instruments for the prevention and suppression of violence against children.
4.These include ILO Conventions 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and 182 on Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, ratified on 28 January 1981 and 7 June 2000 respectively.
5.Italy’s role in taking forward the drafting and signing, in Palermo on 12 December 2000, of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and on Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, was particularly significant.
6.In this respect, the ratification through Law 77 of 20 March 2003 of the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights, signed by Italy on the day of its approval by the Council of Europe, is also worthy of mention. Furthermore Italy signed the Convention on Contact concerning Children and the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, respectively on 15 May, 2003 and 7 November 2007.
7.This commitment was reiterated through Italy’s participation in the Special Session of the United Nations Assembly dedicated to children, which took place in New York in May 2002 and the implementation of the final Declaration and Programme of Action commitments by elaborating and introducing on March 2007 the “Plus 5” review Italian National Progress Report as international commitment assumed by our country at the end of the United Nations special session.
8.The present report will therefore examine the main legislative, administrative and judicial instruments through which our country has implemented the Optional Protocol, the activities undertaken to provide information on and disseminate the content of the Convention as well as the two Optional Protocols, and the several bilateral and multilateral international cooperation initiatives undertaken by Italy in this context. Moreover, a specific attention is devoted to planning and ongoing measures to be implemented in future years, while keeping clearly in view the need to give this information in accordance with the Guidelines provided by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
9.For the compilation of the Italian Government’s Third and Fourth Consolidated Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and related Optional Protocols, the Inter-ministerial Committee on Human Rights (CIDU), which operates in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and whose remit is to draw up and present to the United Nations the Government’s reports on the implementation in Italy of the main Conventions on the protection of human rights, set up a special Working Group to coordinate the input from the following Departments: the Prime Minister’s Office – in particular the Department for Family Policies and for Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies, the Ministry of Education, the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT), the Carabinieri Corps, the Italian UNICEF Committee, and other Administrations.
10.According to article 1, paragraph 6 of Presidential Decree 103 of May, 14th 2007, the National Observatory for Childhood and Adolescence, supported by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, drafted the report in conformity with article 44 of the Convention. The draft report is transmitted and elaborated in its final version by the Government.
11.In this work the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre has vested a central role, collecting all the materials from central and local administration as a member of the National Observatory and the Inter-ministerial Committee of Human Rights.
12.During the last three years, in particular in 2007 and 2008, the Working Group also promoted several meetings with representatives of the NGOs which work in this field, to promote and protect children rights at the national level.
II.General measures of implementation (arts. 4; 42; and 44, para. 6)
Committee recommendation No. 7 on the review of national and regional laws and their conformity with international human rights standards
The national context
13.At national level, the reform of the Title V of the Italian Constitution by Constitutional Law No. 3 of 18 October 2001 and its subsequent implementation regulations, amended article 117 and radically renewed the system of competences and the division of functions between the Central Government and the autonomous Provinces/Regions.
14.In the implementation of this reform, three sectors of legislative power were identified:
A first domain of exclusive State legislative power, in a mandatory series of matters, among which the one regarding the “determination of basic performance levels regarding civil and social rights that must be ensured throughout the nation” that will be described below
A second domain of so called “combined” legislation, in which the legislative power is assigned to the Regions, except for the determination of fundamental principles of national interest, reserved to State legislation
A third residual domain, in which Regions have exclusive power for all the matters which are not openly indicated among those that exclusively belong to the State or those which are part of the combined competence
15.With respect to this new division, also the domains and the matters that concern childhood and adolescence appear to have been redefined, and have been assigned to the State and regional competence domains, respectively. With respect to this, it is particularly worth underlining:
The simultaneous presence of matters that significantly concern childhood and adolescence which have been assigned exclusively to the Regions, among which the issue of social services for the underage, alongside others (health protection, education, school) which are assigned to the domains of combined competence.
The central character of the guarantee, guidance and orientation function of the State which is expressed on the one hand in the exclusive function of the “determination of basic performance levels regarding civil and social rights that must be ensured throughout the nation” and on the other hand in the definition of basic principles in matters of combined legislation assigned to the Regions; with respect to this, it is clear that the “determination of basic performance levels regarding civil and social rights that must be ensured throughout the nation”, assigned to the State, has fundamental significance with respect to, specifically, policies for childhood and adolescence. In order for these policies to really achieve the objectives posed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, they have to be, on the one hand, homogeneously implemented throughout the nation, and on the other hand supported by appropriate public funds and be consistent with levels and tools for general social protection. Based on all this, the reservation to the exclusive legislative power of the State becomes somehow a situation that cannot be cancelled, also considering that these are not “minimum levels” (a statement that might imply minimal levels, of mere survival) but rather “essential” levels, certainly higher than minimal levels and with respect to which only the State, and only within a general framework of social policies and in the light of the overall funds available and of the relevant priorities, can effectively issue laws. Essential levels defined (and funded) by the State can be further improved by the Regions and by the Local Authorities within the framework of their autonomy (also financial), and within the framework of their regulatory and planning powers.
The full recognition of the concept of subsidiarity, both in its “vertical” meaning, according to which the ownership and the exercise of the administrative functions regarding services for the people are transferred to the institutional level closest to citizens, that is, local authorities (Municipalities), and in its “horizontal” meaning, enhances the participation and involvement of citizens, organizations and associations and private businesses in planning, implementing and carrying out actions and services.
16.For clarity of information it is necessary to specify that the State has not yet defined the essential levels for the provision of social services (LIVEAS) that would have to be established together with the Conference State-Regions, also including local bodies besides the competent Ministries. This situation has determined different programs, management of resources and competences, creating a diversification of regional policies for childhood and adolescence.
17.To complete the previous report, with the coming into force in 2000 of the Framework Law on social services (Law 328/2000), Law 285/1997 has become a structural element in social actions for the individuals. Law 328/2000 established the setting up of the National Fund for Social Policies, which includes the National Fund for Children (former Law 285/1997). This resulted in the creation of an “Undefined Fund” in which independent funds are envisaged for the so-called 15 Beneficiary Cities, exclusively earmarked for services for children and adolescents.
18.In any case, Law 328/2000 provides that actions for children must aim both to support children in difficult situations and to promote the rights of childhood and adolescence (art. 22, para. 2, subpara. c) in the framework of the system of essential levels for the provision of social services (liveas). Besides, it is envisaged that actions as per article 22, paragraph 2, subparagraph. (c) must however be carried out in compliance with the aims defined by Law 285/1997 and therefore aimed to ensure the well-being of its recipients.
19.In conclusion, the combination of the reform of Title V of the Constitution (Constitutional Law 3/2001) and the adoption of Law 328/2000 has led to the introduction of the National Social Fund and to the adoption of concrete policies by means of the State-Regions consultation.
20.The new law regulations have therefore originated a rather articulate and complex landscape, which is still changing and has positive elements and criticalities.
21.Since the submission of the previous report (2001) and following the 2003 remarks of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Italian Government has issued a significant system of regulatory provisions which on the one hand have revised and adapted previous provisions, and on the other hand have contributed to widening the current regulatory system to the benefit of children and adolescents.
22.The objective of this action was to complete the harmonization process of Italian legislation with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards, as was requested by the 2002–2004 National Plan of Action.
23.This process characterized the time from 2000 to 2007 and contributed to bringing national regulations closer to the situation and well-being of children and adolescents, assigning to the national regulatory system an increasingly child-centriccharacter.
24.Some of the fields of childhood and adolescence policies where this growing attention can be noted are those regarding:
1.Family, intrafamily relations, children outside the family and deinstitutionalization;
2.Sexual abuse, online child pornography and related developments;
3.Migrant foreign children;
25.Moreover greater awareness and ownership on the side of the Regions is noticed, with respect to this organizational and law-making autonomy. This is currently contributing to the development of regional regulations in line with national regulation (for an example of this see the regional legal annex).
26.In June 2006, according to an analysis carried out in Italy, 13 Regions referred in their own Statute to the protection and/or promotion of the rights of children and adolescents, while the Latium Region openly mentioned the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Furthermore, at the end of 2007, according to a study carried out by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, 15 regional administrations had approved a Regional Law which set up a Regional Observatory on childhood and adolescence policies or a similar facility, thus implementing what envisaged by Law 451/1997 (which was largely submitted in the 2000 report). The dissemination of Observatories dedicated to childhood and adolescence in Italy indicates an increase in the focus on children and adolescents, as does the proliferation of regional regulations on this matter.
Committee recommendation No. 9 on the allocation of use of resources across the State party as well as for the activities carried out by the Foreign Ministry’s international development aid and cooperation
27.In Italy, money is mainly spent for childhood and adolescence in three areas: welfare expenditure, health care expenditure, expenditure for education and training. In these three fields, the last data available date back to 2005.
28.The overall amount spent for children and families as measured by the Eurostat Espross system, amounted to €15 billion in 2005, 4.4 per cent of the overall social expenditure which is now equal to 1.1 per cent of GDP.
29.Such amount, however, is not accurate enough to identify the commitment present in the Government budget for family responsibilities and the rights of children, since on the one hand it also includes expenditure items to the benefit of families and not necessarily specific for children (contributions by the Municipalities to start work, etc.) and, on the other hand, it does not take into consideration rather more significant items that regard families with children such as tax expenditures (deductions which, with respect to personal tax, are granted to taxpayers’ with children) and the expenditure for education, which is not mentioned by social protection Espross accounts.
30.In 2005, expenditure for family responsibilities could be estimated as amounting to €8,805 million, 5,477 of which for child allowances and 1,117 million for other money transfers (an allowance for families with at least three children, maternity allowances, etc.). The latter were mainly distributed by INPS (the Italian Social Security Institute). A modest role was still played by services: €1,679 million (for nurseries, day centres, school support service centres, etc.) was provided for by the Municipalities. It should also be noted that the expenditure for family allowances has significantly increased in the two most recent years and reached €6,427 million in 2007. If also taking account of personal income tax allowances for dependants, estimated in 2005 at approximately €12 billion, the expenditure for the family and children sector amounts to nearly €21 billion, equal to 1.47 per cent of GDP.
31.Inside this expenditure heading, it may be worth emphasizing the part for maintaining education services for early childhood (nurseries, and supplementary services for children aged 0–3). The expenditure allocated to these functions by the Municipalities, again in 2005, was estimated at €898 million (0.063 per cent of GDP).
32.The picture can then be completed with current public expenditure on education, which amounted to approx. €62.7 billion (4.4 per cent of GDP) in 2005, 93 per cent of which can be attributed to children’s services.
33.As to the expenditure for health-care services, also not considered in the first figure on the social expenditure for childhood and families, in 2005 it amounted for the whole of society to 6.3 per cent of GDP (€89.6 billion), in average with the other European countries. It can be assumed that health-care expenditure for services for children and adolescents has a slightly lower weight than their percentage on the population, which is 17 per cent. Expenditure allocated to children can be estimated for 2005 in absolute terms at €10–12 billion.
34.On the whole, the level of public expenditure for children and adolescents can be estimated around 6.2–6.4 per cent of GDP. In the aggregate amount, the item that appeared to be affected by the greatest shortcomings is early childhood, where a strengthening of commitment appears to be necessary, and especially a regional new balance of actions, especially privileging the supply of services (nurseries and other supplementary services), which also gives the opportunity to achieve significant social integration objectives at a time characterized by significant migratory flows. Just with reference to part of the funding trends described above, it is worth noting that the 2007 Budget Law includes a series of measures aimed at increasing social equity and the protection of disadvantaged social groups. Among them, of particular significance is the setting up of some new provisions for funding actions on social and family solidarity and the increase in resources assigned to already existing provisions.
35.As to resources allocated to the benefit of children within the framework of international cooperation for development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has carried out a series of initiatives in agreement with the Guidelines of Italian Cooperation on Children. These programmes have been implemented in collaboration with the recipient governments and through a multisectoral integrated strategy, based on the following elements: support of central and decentralized institutions; strengthening of the network of locally active social organizations; promotion of community participation; strengthening of youth organizations of young recipients that are called to take part in identifying and implementing basic services and information, awareness raising and monitoring of actions to their benefit.
36.Initiatives are aimed at removing the fundamental causes of serious events such as poverty, wild urbanization developments, the break-down of the family and community fabric, the event of social disaffection and street children, transnational trafficking in human beings and specifically in young girls, adolescents and children, exploitation of child labour in its worst forms, the market of illegal international adoptions, commercial sexual exploitation also in tourism and child pornography via the Internet, the use of child soldiers in armed conflicts, migration of unaccompanied children between the various regions and nations.
37.For these development cooperation projects for childhood, €18,356,317.54 were allocated in 2006, €11,792,748.68 of which for projects in Africa. These funds were primarily allocated to projects regarding the issues of trafficking, sexual exploitation and child labour, to which resources for €5,456,679.8663 were allocated. €17,849,369 were allocated in 2007, with a shift of part of resources from Africa to the Middle East, which received €5,523,564. Besides, most resources (€5,867,023) were allocated to social projects.
38.As to the field of decentralized cooperation, that is to say, cooperation projects pursued by the Regions, 15 Regions in 2006 and 9 Regions in 2007 stated that they would take action for the benefit of children.
Committee recommendation No. 11 to strengthen effective coordination within and between government agencies in the implementation of policies for the promotion and protection of the child, closer and more active cooperation with NGOs, participation of children in the activit ies of the National Observatory
39.With respect to the coordination of policies for childhood promotion and protection, it is worth starting by pointing out that the transfer from the State to the Regions of the full competence for the regulation of the system of social services — started with the Constitutional Reform of Title V in 2001 — has implied the promotion of greater local coordination aimed at ensuring an integrated system of social services throughout Italy.
40.At national level, there remains in the first place the system of constitutional guarantees and of the objectives of “substantial” quality that the Constitution has defined; these objectives are binding for the various local authorities involved in the management of the system of social services. Second, the State keeps the competence to define the essential levels of services that must be ensured uniformly throughout Italy. Third, the State still has the possibility to act ex post, as a replacement, to make the use of the essential levels effective. In this organizational model, the forms of convergence in law-making and planning between the Regions become valuable, through modes of self-coordination, and also through the use of the method of open coordination and the implementation of framework institutional agreements.
41.Coordination tools have already been widely mentioned in the previous report, specifically the Permanent Conference for the relations between the State, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, and the Joint Conference, which is the joint venue of the State-Regions Conference and of the State-Cities and Local Autonomies Conference.
42.Another fundamental coordination body is still functioning, that is the Italian National Observatory on Children and Adolescents.
43.During the 15th parliamentary term (2006–2008), it was reorganized through Presidential Decree 103 of 14 May 2007. The Observatory has begun drafting the new National Plan of Action for the Rights of Children.
Other institutions and coordination activities
44.The following are other national coordination institutions, set up in the timeframe under examination on specific issues that have generated actions for the knowledge, coordination, promotion and protection of the rights of childhood:
The National Observatory on the Family, regulated by Ministerial Decree No. 242 of 30 October 2007
The Inter-ministerial Coordinating Committee for Government Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, to face the various aspects of this event (sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, cooperation with the countries of origin of the victims, trafficking in children), coordinated by the Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities of the Prime Minister’s Office
The Inter-ministerial Coordinating Committee for the Fight against Paedophilia (CICLOPE)
The Observatory on Prostitution and the Crimes Connected to it, of the Ministry of the Interior, set up by Ministerial Decree on 18 January 2007
The Observatory on Youth Problems Connected to Addictions, established at the Ministry of Social Solidarity, by the 2007 Budget Law No. 296 of 27 December 2006
The National Observatory for the Integration of Foreign Pupils, established by Ministerial Decree on 6 December 2006
The Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography (Law No. 38 of 6 February 2006, Ministerial Decree No. 240 of 30 October 2007), with the task of acquiring and monitoring data and information regarding activities carried out by all public administrations for the prevention and repression of sexual abuse and exploitation of children
The coordination table between government and social partners for the fight against the exploitation of child labour
Regional and provincial Observatories on bullying, upon initiative by the education authorities competent at the various local levels
45.For a detailed analysis of the activities of these institutions, see specific sections of the analysis.
46.A connection level inspired to the principles of the Open Method of Coordination was started during 2007 with the 15 Beneficiary Cities of the National Fund for Children established by Law 285/1997. A coordination table was set up at the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies, also upon request by the Beneficiary Cities, with the aim to exchange opinions on possible relaunch and implementation of the law.
47.The adoption of the open method of coordination provides, in a way which is absolutely respectful of the new constitutional provisions regarding competence allocation, a new framework of cooperation between Beneficiary Cities for the convergence of the childhood policies of each Municipality. The aim is to achieve common objectives, allowing for a constant comparison system in fields which are within the exclusive competence of the local institutions.
48.Another situation of exchange, integration and coordination between national and regional institutions, was represented by Law 149/2001 (amendment of Law 184/1983 for the section on foster care and domestic adoption), when in article 39 it envisaged that the Government send periodic reports to Parliament on the implementation of regulations, by means of a monitoring action to be carried out in consultation and in collaboration with the Ministry for Social Solidarity, the Ministry of Justice and the Regions.
49.The monitoring activity led to the first report on the implementation of Law 149/2001, presented to Parliament in early 2006 and based on the examination and analysis of information and statistical data resulting from the close synergy between Ministries and Regions. The project for the second Report is characterized by a method that is even more anchored to the issue of the integration between national and regional level, whose point of reference is the establishment of an inter-institutional working table, with the participation of representatives from the Ministries for Welfare and Justice, the Regions, the Interregional Centre for IT, Geographical and Statistical Systems (CISIS), and the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre.
50.Many organizations belonging to the third sector, i.e. voluntary associations, social cooperatives, foundations, not-for-profit organizations and NGOs, are actively present in nearly all the above mentioned coordination institutions, and in the first place in the National Observatory on Children, also by means of forms of coordinated representation. It is worth underlining that, in Italy, NGOs are mainly defined as those third sector organizations that are active in the field of development cooperation (this expression has therefore a smaller meaning than “Third Sector”).
51.Lastly, on various occasions, forms of direct involvement of children and adolescents in the works of the Observatory were organized, in order to draft the relevant Plan of Action.
52.Among others, it is worth mentioning the experience of the Children’s and Adolescents’ Forum, promoted and funded by the Government and supported by the PIDIDA (For the Rights of Childhood and Adolescence) Participation Group.
53.This group of 60 children and adolescents, aged between 9 and 18, drafted the “Guidelines of Children and Adolescents for the National Plan for Children”, which were given to the Government in Florence in November 2006.
54.The Forum is the start of a path that has led young participants to drafting actual proposals and debate on the following issues:
I HAVE FUN
55.As far as the results of Group’s meetings see the reference note, which are the starting point of the long way in which children and adolescents, by means of the PIDIDA.
56.Within the framework of the activity of the Working Group on participation of the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents (active from November 2007 to April 2008 during the 15th Government term) a schedule of hearings was planned with subjects that, for various reasons, could describe local experiences of projects and actions to foster the social participation of children and adolescents.
57.The hearing schedule prepared by the group, aimed at drafting the chapter on participation of the new Government Plan of Action, envisaged various forms of hearing of different stakeholders and the involvement of delegations of children and adolescents active in various experiences (school, associations, local authorities, etc.) with various participation modes.
D.National Plan of Action
Committee recommendation No. 13 on the elaboration and adoption of the National Plan of Action, ensuring the harmonization with the plan for the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document, in the light of achieved results
58.With reference to the Committee recommendations regarding the adoption of the National Plan of Action, in the timeframe of reference, two National Plans of Action were approved under article 2 of Law 451 of 23 December 1997: the 2000–2002 Plan and the 2002–2004 Plan. A new Plan of Action is currently being drafted.
2000–2002 Plan of Action
59.The Plan included the strategic lines that the Government had followed to develop a suitable policy for children and adolescents and the concrete undertakings to be fulfilled, described in the form of actions. Actions were described aimed at improving the living conditions of all children and adolescents, at protecting child victims of abuse and sexual exploitation, at fighting child labour exploitation, at favouring an educational relationship with the world of social communication. Particular attention was devoted to actions for the protection and integration of foreign children, including support for children experiencing difficulties in other world countries, and at the implementation of laws regarding international adoptions.
60.The plan also included the indication of a plan of targeted actions for the May 2000–June 2001 period, according to which some initiatives would have been prioritized, while the Government fully undertook to actually and entirely implement all the actions listed in the multi-year plan. The objectives that the Government intended to pursue with specific energy between May 2000 and June 2001 were connected to the full implementation of laws approved from 1997 to 2000 with respect to children’s policies.
2002–2004 Plan of Action
61.The Plan reaffirmed the central character of the higher interest of younger citizens and the unbreakable relationship that links the child and the adolescent with his/her family for the purpose of conceiving children’s policies also by implementing a more effective system of family policies.
62.The Plan, starting from the analysis of the context and from the implementation of the previous Plan, highlighted strategies, priorities and tools to define system actions and guidelines to be implemented locally.
2008–2010 Plan of Action
63.The new Plan of Action for children and Adolescents is being drafted.
64.With specific reference to the implementation of the WFFC Declaration (A World fit for children), since 2002 the Observatory has defined a series of performances to be fulfilled, among which the 2002–2004 National Plan of Action and Intervention for the protection of the rights and the development of children, the Plan of Interventions to close down children placement structures by 2006 and, currently being drafted, the new National Plan of Action, in agreement with the commitments undertaken by Italy during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children (UNGASS) of May 2002.
65.All Plans of Action envisaged monitoring their implementation status, carried out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, with the support of the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre. In particular, for each single project envisaged by the plan, actions and initiatives carried out were identified, as well as the concerned bodies.
66.Periodically, every year since 1999, the National Centre has prepared for the competent Ministry (Welfare or Social Solidarity) draft reports on the implementation status of Law 285/1997 that the competent Ministry has then presented to Parliament. In 2005, again by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, a draft report to Parliament on the implementation of Law 149/2001 was prepared and presented by the Ministries of Justice and Social Solidarity. The reports are publicly available and they can be read on the website www.minori.it.
67.Another law that features a reporting activity by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre is the implementation of Law 269/1998 regarding the fight against sexual exploitation of children and paedophilia. Three draft reports to Parliament were prepared on the implementation status of the law by the competent Ministry (Department for Equal Opportunities).
68.Since 2001, the Commission for Intercountry Adoption has been monitoring the implementation of Law 476/1998, regarding the ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, producing half-year reports on the development of intercountry adoptions in Italy. In addition to this, the Commission carried out periodic studies and surveys with the objective to check the implementation of the law and analyse critical areas. In this regard, studies tried to shed light on the paths of the so called “difficult adoptions”, on the size of this phenomenon, its dynamics and modes of action to face the cases of adoption failure (Troubled Paths in Intercountry Adoptions, 2003), and on how adopted foreign children are received in school (School Reception of Adopted Foreign Children, 2003). These documents can be read on the Commission website under the “bibliografia” (literature) section (www.commissioneadozioni.it).
E.Independent monitoring structures
Committee recommendation No. 15 on the establish ment of a national independent O mbudsman for children, to perform its functions in the light of appropriate linkages between other national and regional institutions
69.On 1 August 2008 the Council of Ministers adopted, upon a proposal from the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, with the participation of the Undersecretary for Family Policies, the bill for the establishment of the National Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents.
70.Fifteen Regions have adopted a Regional Law that establishes the Ombudsman. In two of them the Ombudsman was already active at the time of the Second Report of the Italian Government: the Region of Veneto, which, in advance with respect to international orientations, had established it already in 1988 (Regional Law 42 of 9 August 1988), and the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Regional Law 49 of 24 June 1993). In the period of reference of this report, the following Regions established and activated the Ombudsman: Marches (Regional Law 18 of 15 October 2002), Latium (Regional Law 38 of 28 October 2002), Molise (Regional Law 32 of 2/10/2006) and Campania (Regional Law 17 of 24 July 2006). Six Regions have issued a law to establish the Ombudsman and have implemented, at different stages, the relevant law, appointing the Children’s Ombudsman and implementing its structure.
71.The projects which Ombudsmen have carried out in each Region show some common elements, which is worth briefly recalling to understand the meaning of their activity. These projects mainly refer to the advocacy and promotion of the rights of children, the implementation of specific action projects, regarding education or research, and the promotion of inter-sectoral integration of local policies, also by creating networks between institutions.
Committee recommendation No. 17 on the mechanism for collecting and analysing systematically disaggregated data on all persons under 18 for all areas covered by the Convention, and using these indicators and data effectively in formulating and evaluating policies and programmes for the implementation and monitoring of the Convention
72.Data on children and adolescents are collected from various sources by several players which, for different reasons, are competent on this issue. Among these players, the most significant are certainly ISTAT (Italian Statistics Institute), the Ministries (Ministry of the Interior; Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies; Ministry of Education, University and Research; Ministry of Justice), the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces by means of the Centres and Observatories on children and adolescents, as well as through CISIS (Interregional Centre for IT, Geographical and Statistical Systems), the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre. The official statistical production finally strengthened attention on the child, at least partially interrupting its traditional statistical lack of visibility and its being relegated to strictly demographic and familiar phenomena.
73.ISTAT is the main producer of basic data on childhood and adolescence, resulting from ad hoc surveys or from the establishment of information systems and databases, some of which specifically dealing with children and adolescents — a recent example is the analysis carried out by means of multipurpose surveys in 2005 and 2007 with a module dedicated to the world of childhood and adolescence — and others (the majority) where useful information can be found regarding Italian child population.
74.Alongside ISTAT surveys, in recent years Ministries have established their own spaces of action on specific themes regarding children and adolescents. The main experiences of Ministries are in the monitoring field: for instance, the Ministry of the Interior, on violence against children and children who are being searched in Italy; the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies, on drug addiction, surveillance on child labour and work authorizations issued in the entertainment industry, entrances of unaccompanied foreign children; the Ministry of Education, University and Research, on pupils and students enrolled at each and every level of public and private schools; the Ministry of Justice, on measures in favour of children and on trafficking in children.
75.By means of Centres and Observatories on children and adolescents, the Autonomous Provinces and Regions have then developed original and accurate databases in the fields of support and protection of children, building on the direct observation of children and adolescents who are involved in the detected events. Reference is especially made to the experience accrued by Emilia-Romagna, to the articulated project of Piedmont, to Tuscany, with its accurate — while still under development — statistical information system on children, and to Veneto, which has, through the Regional Observatory for children and adolescents, its own database on various aspects of children’s life. More in general, thanks to the activity of CISIS on some of the main child-related topics, such as hospitality in residential services and the social expenditure of individual and associated Municipalities, the autonomous Regions and Provinces have formalized a set of common information which is collected on a yearly basis.
76.In this varied landscape, the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre has constantly identified and systematized data coming from the above mentioned official statistical sources on childhood and adolescence, in an attempt to make a picture as exhaustive and as coordinated as possible of data available nationally and regionally. This activity has been publicized over the years in the Books of the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre and in its website.
Disabled or invalid children and adolescents
77.Information on disability is provided by the Statistical Information System on Disability (www.disabilitaincifre.it) promoted by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies and implemented by ISTAT.
78.The picture made through the Statistical Information System on Disability will be enriched by two specific surveys included in the 2008–2010 National Statistical Plan aimed at subjects with six or more years of disability:
The first survey envisages nationwide analyses regarding school and work integration, social participation, support and informal help to the disabled.
The second survey envisages a further survey on pupils with disabilities attending public and private primary and middle schools. Questionnaires will determine the main features of the school (number of enrolled pupils, number of pupils with disability, remedial teachers made available, etc.) and some information on the health conditions of pupils with disability.
Roma, Sinti and Caminanti children and adolescents
79.At the moment in Italy no national census of the Roma population has been carried out, but there are local authorities that hold data regarding their areas. It is however worth mentioning that the civil protection order signed on 30 May 2008 envisages an imminent and progressive census of Italian Roma, Rumanian Roma, non-EU Roma and non-EU citizens belonging to other nations, whose objective is also the protection of children in order to remove them from their illegal alien status and improve their situation.
80.According to Opera Nomadi, within Roma, Sinti and Caminanti populations, 70–80 per cent of individuals are aged under 25, and of them, more than 50 per cent are aged under 18. The same opinion is shared by the Comunità di Sant’Egidio: until the moment when Rumanian Roma arrived in Italy, children amounted to 50 per cent, then this percentage has slightly decreased. As an indication, the number of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti children is of approximately 70,000. A certainly significant number of children who need attention and sufficiently healthy growing conditions.
Children and adolescents belonging to migrant families
81.The constantly increasing presence of foreigners is the real and most obvious change in the otherwise rather static scenario of Italian society. The increase recorded in recent years, particularly intense in 2003 and 2004, is first and foremost attributable to regularization laws (Law 189 of 30 July 2002 and Law 222 of 9 October 2002) that gave the opportunity to many foreigners already illegally living in Italy to amend their position. Actually, the strong incoming migratory flow — by far higher than outward flows — made it possible to the population living in Italy to continue to grow, in years marked by a negative natural population balance (the difference between births and deaths).
82.At 1 January 2007 there were 2,938,922 resident foreigners (source: ISTAT), and now, following a constantly growing trend, they account for 5 per cent of the population residing in Italy. Within the increase in resident foreign population, the most rapidly growing element is undoubtedly represented by children, though in the years of regularization a slight decrease was recorded in the percentage of children on the overall number of foreign population, since the regularization process concerned adults more than children. With respect to the size of this population segment, some remarks must be made, in order to highlight some specific monitoring issues:
Visitor’s permits only refer to people aged over 14, therefore they underestimate the presence of foreign children. People aged under 14 are recorded on the permit released to one or both parents.
Registrations at the register of births, marriages and deaths only refer to resident children, including children who are no longer present but have not yet been removed from the register, and without considering regular children waiting to be registered.
83.Theoretically speaking, the presumably non negligible amount of irregular individuals must be added, as they are not registered, because of their very nature, by any monitoring activity or statistical survey. In consideration of all this, the increase in resident foreign children population is obvious and has meant a fivefold increase over a five year period, increasing from 128,000 individuals in 2001 to 666,293 individuals counted in January 2007. In percentage terms, they account for 22.6 per cent of the overall foreign population, which means that one foreigner every five individuals regularly registered at the register of births, marriages and deaths is underage. The growth in the number of children is not only fed by family reunifications, according to which children come to Italy from their countries of origin after a period of stay of one or both parents in our country, but also and especially by the number of children born from foreigners in Italy, so much that around 60 per cent of the increase in the number of foreign children which occurred over the last year can be attributed to new births. It can be easily foreseen that in future years foreign births will have a more significant weight and increase on the overall number of births, not only because of the growing incoming migration flows but also for the higher fertility rate of foreigners compared to Italians. It is estimated that the average fertility rate of foreigners in Italy is 2.4 children per woman — with even very significant differences between the various communities, for example Egyptians and Moroccans (4 children per woman), Peruvians and Philippines (1.4 children per woman) — versus a fertility rate in Italy of just 1.32 children per woman.
84.The information that has just been described will be enriched by specific surveys, some of which, while not targeted on children but to the whole foreign population, are part of the 2008–2010 National Statistical Plan and deal with the following:
1.Processing of the analysis of the economic situation of foreigners, years 2004–2005;
2.Multi-purpose survey on social integration of immigrant citizens, with the purpose to further analyse relevant social aspects such as work conditions, training programmes and the quality of life of foreign citizens;
3.Survey on income and living conditions of migrant families;
4.Experimental survey on consumptions by immigrant households, households with temporary and part-time workers;
5.Project survey to “Enlarge the EU-SILC sample, living conditions and income for immigrant families”.
85.Every year, and since school year 1997/98, the Ministry for Education, University and Research publishes specific data on the number of foreigners in Italian schools.
Unaccompanied foreign children
86.A quantification of unaccompanied foreign children can turn out to be rather difficult, mainly because these are transitory individuals who come, pass and stay illegally on the domestic territory. Each unaccompanied foreign child found in Italy must be referred to the Foreign Children Committee, competent to assess the child’s interest and to take the decisions necessary for his/her protection.
87.National data result, therefore, from the database of the Foreign Children Committee, among whose tasks there are information collection and analysis. In recent years, the Committee has received many thousands of referrals, coming not only from public prosecutors’ offices for children, from prefectures, but also from local authorities or other institutions, filing them into two different archives: the first contains the files regarding those cases for which the Committee can decide, the second contains the files regarding all other mentioned children (“cases under competence” also include information regarding unaccompanied foreign children who meet all requisites for the Committee to issue a decision regarding them, either no repatriation or assisted repatriation).
88.At 30 September 2007, according to the Foreign Children Committee, there were on the whole 6,554 unaccompanied foreign children in Italy, 4,833 of whom out of its province and 1,721 of whom within the province of the Committee. In most cases these are male children (75 per cent of the total), generally aged between 15 and 17 years (65 per cent of the total), mainly coming from Morocco (23 per cent), Albania (18 per cent), Palestine (14 per cent), Egypt (8 per cent), Afghanistan (6 per cent), Iraq (5.5 per cent), Serbia and Montenegro (4 per cent), mainly found in Sicily (32 per cent) and Lombardy (16 per cent).
89.From 2000 to 2007, 825 unaccompanied foreign children were repatriated. The Foreign Children Committee has provided data regarding the yearly breakdown (see table below).
Child victims of violence
90.Events regarding violence and sexual exploitation of children are without doubt among the most difficult to measure and interpret. Law 66/1996 “Rules against sexual abuse”, Law 269/1998 “Provisions against the Exploitation of Prostitution, Pornography, and Sexual Tourism to the Detriment of Children: The New Forms of Slavery” and Law 39 of 6 February 2006, “Provisions Concerning the Fight Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography Also Via Internet” certainly contributed not only to increase citizens’ attention, awareness and readiness to report, the prevention and fight of crimes against children, but also the strengthening of data collection systems on these events. It is hard to say, thus, how many of the changes occurred over the last 10 years in the number of reports of child abuse can be attributed to a change in these situations and how many depend on the changes made to national rules and regulations, population awareness and data collection systems.
91.A further element of uncertainty when representing this event is the fact that available data cannot represent the whole universe, since they exclusively refer to reports made to judicial authorities, while sector surveys, accompanied by an increasingly aware interpretation and detection of this event, lead to think that the unknown element has different features and is of a greater size than the element we know.
92.After this necessary introduction, it is worth noting that the main information sources on sexual abuse and exploitation against children are the criminal judicial statistics of ISTAT and the statistics of the Ministry of the Interior. In particular, the latter Ministry, by means of the investigations carried out by the Postal and Telecommunications Police in fighting child pornography online, provides further data on the dangers that children may meet in their relationship with the Internet.
93.Among the specific analyses on this issue, it is worth mentioning the survey carried out by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, the first survey regarding cases of abuse suffered during childhood, based on interviews to a representative sample of Italian women aged 18–60.
94.Still with respect to abuse, the Prime Minister’s Office – Department for Equal Opportunities, making use of the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, is committed to designing the Database of the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography (under Law 38/2006) by fostering the technical feasibility for the integration and harmonization of information present in source databases of various central administrations, such as: Ministry of the Interior (Joint Database; National Centre for Combating Child Pornography on the Internet, CETS Database); Ministry of Justice (Re.Ge Database, Sigma Database, Information System of the Judicial Register, Information Systems of the Courts of Appeal and of the Court of Cassation).
95.The same Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre also promoted the experimentation of the national monitoring system of children reported to and/or cared for by the local services because of situations of neglect, maltreatment and/or sexual abuse, called Abuse Register.
Children and adolescents belonging to economically and socially disadvantaged households
96.During the years 2000–2007 significant data were collected and studied regarding children belonging to economically and socially disadvantaged households. The most significant data can be summarized by the two macrocategories of poverty and social exclusion, on the one hand, and of children outside the family on the other hand.
97.With respect to the first category, it is worth mentioning that in the National Statistical Plan, alongside the final definition of the structure of the EU-SILC survey on income and living conditions, the study of an ad hoc module was envisaged for the definition of deprivation indicators on children.
98.On the basis of the annual survey on consumptions (year 2006) by ISTAT, the last survey available to date, it is worth mentioning that on the whole there are 1,728,000 individuals aged under 18 who live in families in a situation of relative poverty. Among them, around one third (30.9 per cent) is aged under 6 and 61.7 per cent are aged under 11 (15.5 per cent are aged between 11 and 13 while the remaining 23 per cent is aged 14 or more). 72 per cent of poor children live in the South, where “just” 40 per cent of all children live; conversely, in the North, where 42 per cent of children live, there are 16.5 per cent of poor children. Children living in poverty live, in most cases, with their parents and at least one sibling (in 45 per cent of cases just one sibling and in 29 per cent two or more); 6.7 per cent live with just one parent (in 82.5 per cent of cases with at least one sibling) and another 10 per cent live in a family of a different type (in 72 per cent of cases another child is present).
99.With respect to the macroarea of children who live outside the family, ISTAT carried out, in collaboration with CISIS (Interregional Centre for IT, Geographical and Statistical Systems), a survey on social and welfare residential facilities that provided information on children without protection included in these services.
100.Over the same years, the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre carried out surveys on the same issue having as its purpose: (a) the extension of knowledge to all children outside the family, that is by including in the survey not only children in residential services but also children and adolescents fostered out to individuals, families and relatives; (b) the availability of the most up-to-date data — currently at 31/12/2005 — in order to guide policies on a strongly dynamic event such as children outside the family; (c) monitoring the application of provision 149/01 which envisages the deinstitutionalization and the preferential placement of children and adolescents, who are temporarily without a suitable family environment, in foster care to individuals, families and relatives. Data from the last monitoring activity (January 2008) on the application of provision 149/01 basically recorded the progress of the deinstitutionalization process with the conversion of children’s institutes in other types of reception centres. In 2008 the Centre promoted, in collaboration with the autonomous Regions and Provinces, a new survey on children and adolescents outside the family, with the purpose to provide a picture as updated as possible on this development, based on a common and shared language and on a minimum set of data common to all the regions, in order to provide useful support to planning policies on this issue.
101.The use of quantitative data and information is getting more and more widespread when planning and defining intervention measures. The main effort of the main producers of data currently involved (ISTAT, Ministries, Regions, Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre) is to cover all the areas of interest of the world of childhood and adolescence, trying to ensure:
The quality of data and information collected
Continuous information over time, by transforming, wherever possible, ad hoc surveys in constant flows of statistics, also by activating information systems that ensure longer information life
Timely information, that is, the availability of data which are as updated as possible with respect to the moment when policies must be designed, in order not to act on the present situation based on outdated information, especially in strongly dynamic areas of the children’s daily life
102.These objectives, in particular, have been achieved in some situations of excellence such as, for example, monitoring foreign children authorized to enter Italy for foster care purposes carried out by the Commission for Intercountry adoptions, thanks to which in Italy there are updated data that can be substantially consulted in real time with respect to the entry of children in foster care.
103.As far as the coherence of the data collection process by the various institutions, both at the national and regional levels, a first coordination level is ensured within the framework of the definition of the National Statistical Plan by the activity carried out within quality circles, proactive bodies used by ISTAT to prepare the National Statistical Programme (PSN), consisting of subjects coming from various institutions.
104.These are permanent working groups and are a place for systematic debate between producers and users of statistical information, within which framework the planning process of the statistical activity is strongly rationalized, in the various sectors of the PSN.
105.In particular, in the “Technical Report on the preparation of the National Statistical Programme for the 2008–2010 three-year period” are collected all sectoral planning documents which have been prepared within the framework of the quality circles and used by the Central Secretariat Office of the National Statistics System of ISTAT for the preparation of the National Statistical Plan (PSN) for the 2008–2010 three-year period. As to those sections which refer to surveys regarding childhood and adolescence, the document provides a significant overview of the subjects and of the statistical activities that will be developed. 68 system subjects will take part in the 2008–2010 PSN: besides ISTAT, 18 central administrations and autonomous State-owned companies, 16 public bodies, 3 bodies and institutions of statistical information, 6 private subjects that carry out statistical activities having relevant public interest and, through prototype works, regions Emilia-Romagna, Latium, Liguria, Lombardy, Marches, Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily and Veneto, the Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano and Trento, the Provinces of Belluno, Bologna, Pesaro-Urbino, Reggio Calabria, Rimini and Rovigo, the Municipalities of Brescia, Florence, Livorno, Messina, Milan, Rome and Verona.
106.A second, extremely significant reference to the coordination of data collection activities comes from Law 451/97 that envisaged “appropriate coordination measures of local collection actions and processing of all data regarding the situation of children and adolescents in the Region”.
107.With respect to this, it is worth noting that, though their organizations are extremely varied, Regions and autonomous Provinces keep a technical table of interregional coordination where, as in the case of the survey on children outside the family, for example, carried out in collaboration with the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, they can exchange opinions also with respect to the issues of monitoring and collecting data regarding childhood and adolescence.
108.More in general, with respect to the coordination of regional activities, of fundamental importance is the contribution of CISIS, an association of Regions and Autonomous Provinces established in order to ensure effective coordination of information, geographical and statistical tools, as well as to ensure the best connection between the Regions, the State and the local authorities.
109.CISIS is currently working to define a common glossary for the various Regions on social and welfare services for children and adolescents.
110.Precisely for achieving a greater consistency, homogeneity and integration of data produced by the various institutional sources and an accurate mapping of flows and their features, the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre is committed to an activity of examination of institutional information systems (Ministries, Regions, Government agencies) as well as non-institutional (third sector, research institutions) that deal for various reasons with childhood and adolescence.
G.Training/dissemination of the Convention
Committee recommendation No. 19 on dissemination of information on the Convention and development of systematic and ongoing training programmes
111.In general, activities for the promotion and dissemination of the Convention are carried out by the competent Administrations and mainly by third sector associations – often thanks to public funds, and by the UNICEF national section and local committees. Also regional Ombudsmen have carried out various initiatives to promote the Convention.
112.Convention dissemination activities have been carried out also by other central administrations. For example, on the website of the State Police there is an online interactive path designed specifically for children and adolescents that gives the opportunity to get to know the content of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
113.As to training on the rights of children, specifically aimed at professional positions working with children, particular significance was taken by the initiatives promoted by Law 285/1997. In particular, in the period of reference of this report, 8 workshops have been organized, taking 4 areas into consideration (law-making and planning; administration; information flows; adolescence) with the participation of 450 experts from 17 Regions. In addition to this, with the implementation of Law 285/1997, the object of many projects was the training and dissemination of the Convention to the general population, with positive results as is shown in many documents published and gathered by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre.
114.Among training programmes promoted at national level in agreement with the Regions, it is worth mentioning those promoted by the Commission for Intercountry Adoption (CAI), in collaboration with the Istituto degli Innocenti, Florence. Among these, after a first series of national training classes carried out in 2001 and 2002 dedicated to face the complex foster care procedure after Law 476/1998 came into force, ratifying the Hague International Convention, between 2003 and 2004 a training and exchange programme was carried out between Italian foster care experts and experts from other European countries. The outcomes have been documented in a publication issued in 2005 in the “Studies and research” series of CAI under the title The worker beyond the border. International Foster Care paths in the countries of origin. Eastern Europe. On 20 November, every year in various Italian cities, upon initiative of the two-chamber Commission for Children, of the Government, of local authorities and charities, the anniversary of the signing of the Convention is celebrated, thus generating moments for reflection, study, debate and awareness-raising that place at the centre the issue of promotion and respect for the rights of children.
115.A review of training programmes, workshops and information activities on childhood and adolescence in Italy (organized by universities, local institutions, private individuals and charities) is present in the website of the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, that gathers and organizes information received by the Secretariat of the Centre on training programmes and study and awareness-raising projects since the year 2000 (http://www.minori.it/eventi%20e%20corsi/intro_eventi.htm).
III.Definition of the child (art. 1)
116.The issue of the identification of the child in the Italian legal system has been accurately described in the previous report submitted by Italy. Therefore, the information provided in this paragraph integrates and updates the information previously provided.
Right of the child to education
117.Law 296 of 27 December 2006, Provisions Concerning the Drawing Up of the Annual and Multi-annual State Budgets (Budget 2007) established the increase of mandatory education until 16 years of age. In particular, under paragraph 622, education given for at least 10 years is mandatory and aimed at achieving a high school diploma or a professional qualification of at least three years of duration before 18 years of age.
Admission to work or employment, including dangerous jobs, part-time work, full-time work and apprenticeship
118.The raising of mandatory education to 16 years of age by means of Law 296/2006 implied an increase in the age to enter employment, which as a consequence, went from 15 to 16 years. However, specific provisions were included to regulate particular cases. For example, with Ministerial Decree 218 of 27 April 2006, Rules Governing the Use of Children under 14 in Television Programmes, the use of children aged under 14 in radio and television programmes was regulated, within the framework of an employment relationship or outside of it, by using their images or voices.
119.Still with respect to employment, Legislative Decree 77 of 15 April 2005, Defining General Regulations on Work-linked Training in Pursuance of article. 4 of Law No. 53 of 28 March 2003, regulates the combination of school and work, whereby this “combination” is construed as a mode of implementing high school classes, in licei and in vocational colleges, to ensure that young people, besides basic knowledge, also acquire skills they can use in the labour market. Students aged 15 can request that they carry out their whole training from 15 to 18 years of age or part of it, by alternating periods of study and work, under the responsibility of the school or training institution.
120.Also with respect to apprenticeship, Law 296/2006 confirmed the possibility to have access to it only starting from the age of 16. The Italian legislator also envisaged various measures to protect the position of the underage apprentice: as an example, it should be recalled that Ministerial Decree 152 of 16 May 2001 defined the contents of training activities for apprentices.
121.Legislative Decree 9 of 15 January 2002, Supplementary and correcting provisions of the new Highway Code, under article 1, paragraph 1, of Law 85 of 22 March 2001, amending article 116 of the Highway Code (that had been issued by Legislative Decree 285 of 30 April 1992) confirmed that a person underage can ride a motorbike from the age of 14, however introducing the obligation for the person underage to achieve “the certificate of eligibility to drive, issued by the competent office of the Department of Transport, following a specific programme with a final test”.
Purchase of alcohol
122.Law 296 of 27 December 2006, Provisions Concerning the Drawing Up of the Annual and Multi-annual State Budgets (Budget 2007), at paragraph 90 devoted to measures against alcohol consumption by children, amending article 689 of the criminal code, established a general prohibition to sell alcoholic beverages to children under 18, with the possibility of arrest for infringements.
123.The amendment makes the provisions of Law 125/2001 more severe, already aimed at protecting the right of people, and in particular of children and adolescent, to a family, social and working life protected from the consequences connected to the abuse of alcoholic beverages and spirits and as a consequence bans the advertising of alcoholic beverages and spirits that: “a) are broadcast in programmes for children and in the 15 minutes before and after such programmes; b) attributes therapeutic efficacy or indications which are not openly recognised by the Ministry of Health; c) represents children consuming alcohol or gives a positive representation of the consumption of alcoholic beverages or spirits”. It also prohibits “direct or indirect advertising of alcoholic beverages and spirits in places mainly attended by children aged under 18 years”. The same prohibition is extended to radio and television advertising of spirits in the time bracket between 16.00 and 19.00 and to the advertising of these beverages on newspaper and magazines for children and in cinema theatres on the occasion of movie shows mainly devoted to children.
Fight against tobacco consumption
124.As to the fight against tobacco consumption, the current regulation regarding the sale and supply of tobacco is article 16 of Law 75 of 18 March 2008, Ratification and Execution of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Signed in Geneva on 21 May 2003, which prohibits tobacco products from being sold to persons that have not reached the age envisaged in domestic law or established by national law or the age of 18.
125.In Italy the limit to sell tobacco products to children is established at 16 years of age by Royal Decree 2316 of 24 December 1934. Consolidated text of laws on protection and assistance to motherhood and childhood, whose article 25 envisages that those who sell or supply tobacco to children aged under 16 are punished with an administrative penalty. It should be remembered that in Italy children and adults are forbidden from smoking in public places; furthermore, if it is not possible to prove in any way the fact of being of the necessary age, the persons authorized to publicly sell processed tobacco products must refuse to sell them.
IV.General principles (arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12)
Committee recommendation No. 21 on awareness-raising/preventive measures, evaluation of existing disparities in the enjoyment by children of their rights to undertake the necessary steps to prevent and eliminate discrimination through proactive measures, in particular the disparities based on wealth and the condition of children belonging to the most vulnerable gro ups
126.In order to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, it should be underlined that, implementing European Directive 2000/43/EC, the National Office Against Racial Discrimination (active since 2004 and known by the acronym of UNAR), was established by article 7 of Legislative Decree 215 of 9 July 2003 within the framework of the Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities. Its task is to promote the values of quality and fair treatment between people, regardless of their ethnic and racial origin. In addition to pro bono legal counselling to the victims of racial discrimination and the promotion of positive actions, UNAR carried out a series of information and awareness-raising campaigns, choosing the school as its privileged field, with the main objective to mainly address children and those who are in charge of their education (teachers, professors, etc.).
127.An useful example to evaluate existing disparities in the enjoyment by children of their rights involves the integration of foreign children at school. Italy has envisaged the full inclusion of foreign pupils in the education system and their total equality with Italian pupils, adjusting laws to the principles established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The right of access of foreign children at school, already envisaged in the law on migration (art. 36 of Law 40 of 6 March 1998) and in the “Consolidated text of provisions regarding the regulation of migration and provisions on the condition of foreigners” (arts. 31 and 38 of Legislative Decree 286 of 25 July 1998), was fully confirmed by Law 189 of 30 July 2002: the principle was recognized according to which all foreign children on Italian territory, regardless of their legal position — children of foreigners with visitor’s permit or children of parents without a permit or unaccompanied foreign children — have a right to education.
128.As far as appropriate penal sanctions against any act of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Italian legal framework contains a wide range of criminal, civil and administrative provisions aimed at fighting racism. As to the criminal field, particular significance is taken by Law 205/93, as amended by Law 85/2006, that establishes that the purpose of racial discrimination is a special aggravating circumstance that implies the increase of the penalty of up to its half for all crimes committed for discrimination purposes, or ethnical, national, racial or religious hatred, or for the purpose of facilitating the activity of organizations, associations, movements or groups that have the same purposes among their objectives.
129.As to the elimination of interregional disparities, see section II (A).
130.As to actions and the allocation of resources for the support of social services for children belonging to the most vulnerable social classes, see section IX.
131.As to the situation of foreign children in detention, see section IX (B) devoted to special protection measures.
132.As far as specific information be included in the next periodic report on measures and programmes relevant to the Convention undertaken by the State party as a follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in 2001, taking into account the Committee’s general comment No. 1 on article 29, paragraph 1, of the Convention (aims of education), it must be reminded that UNAR, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education has organized over the years four prize competitions for schools of all levels, with the objective to favour the enhancement of educational experiences, projects and products made by teachers and students in the field of intercultural education, specifically focused on the fight against any form of discrimination based on ethnicity and race.
133.In parallel with the competitions, UNAR has organized various events with the direct involvement of schools of whole cities. In particular, during the annual Week of action against racism, UNAR organized meeting with the schools and, starting from movies or shows or exhibitions, managed to trigger discussions and reflections among the students who participated in these events.
134.This way, over the years, UNAR reached the schools in dozens of cities throughout Italy and distributed explanatory DVDs with information and news on the new provisions against discrimination, on the tools of protection available to the victims of racism and on the establishment of UNAR, or containing short movies and documentaries, as well as books and texts of analysis. It should also be lastly mentioned that, for the last four years, UNAR has sponsored the city race that is held annually during the Rome Marathon, with the slogan Vinciamo ogni discriminazione (Beat any discrimination). Every year around 4,000 children and adolescents race the roads of Rome wearing the yellow anti-racist shirts of the Office and entertaining the audience in some squares along the Marathon path with shows and events under the insignia of multiethnicity.
B.Best interests of the child
Committee recommendation No. 24 on the general principle of the best interests of the child is appropriately integrated into all legislation and budgets, as well as judicial and administrative decisions and into projects, programmes and services which have an impact on children
135.As already anticipated in the previous report, the principle of the interest of the child to be privileged over other interests, while not appearing in our Constitution, is increasingly present in European and national regulatory provisions. There are various provisions in which a privileged position is assigned to the interest of the child with respect to any other interest involved in decision-making processes that concern the child as an individual and as a social group.
136.As to national laws, open reference to the interest of the child is present in the provisions regarding separated parents and shared custody (Law 54 of 8 February 2006) in which, while amending article 155 of the Italian Civil Code regarding measures about children, it is envisaged that in the case of parents separating, the child has the right to maintain a balanced and continuous relationship with each of them and to retain significant relationships with the grandparents and the relatives of each parent’s family. Therefore, the judge has to take the most appropriate decisions regarding offspring by exclusively referring to their moral and material interest.
137.Still with reference to the implementation of the principle that mandates that the best interest of the child is always taken into account also in the light of his/her opinion, if he/she is of such an age as to understand the meaning of specific decisions, the regulation has been deeply renovated regarding adoption and foster care (Law 149 of 28 March 2001, reforming Law 184 of 4 May 1983). Its background is the right of the child to be educated in “his/her own family”, construed as an intangible right. However, if the original family is (temporarily or permanently) ineligible, the right of the child comes into play of being included in another household, under the form of foster care or adoption, in application of various tools envisaged by law: foster care to families, individual persons or couples, placement in family-type communities, full adoption or simple adoption or “in particular cases”. The interest of the child becomes real in the right to have balanced growth and education and receive affection and family care. Therefore, there are various clear references to the interest of the child with respect to various possible solutions (arts. 4, 10, 14, 19, etc.).
138.Further reference to the principle of the best interest of the child can be found with respect to the hospitality of people seeking asylum in Legislative Decree 140 of 30 May 2005 regarding the implementation of Directive 2003/9/EC, which establishes minimum rules regarding the hospitality of people seeking asylum in EU member States. Article 8, regarding the hospitality of persons with particular needs, in its first paragraph defines as such “vulnerable persons, such as children, the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women, single parents with young children, persons for whom it has been ascertained that they were subject to torture, rape or other serious forms of mental, physical or sexual abuse. In particular, this provision at paragraph four envisages that hospitality to unaccompanied children is given, under the decision taken by a Juvenile Court, by the local authority. Besides, paragraph 5 states that the Ministry of the Interior stipulates conventions, on the basis of the funds available of the National Fund for Asylum Policies and Services, after hearing the Children Committee, for the implementation of programmes aimed at finding the relatives of unaccompanied children”. Here it is openly stated that “The implementation of these programmes must be carried out in compliance with the best interest of the children and with the obligation to absolute confidentiality, in order to protect the safety of the person requesting asylum.”
139.As to case law regarding the principle stated in article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it should be underlined that, during the period of reference of this Report, the various court levels have shown increased attention to the principle of the best interest of the child.
140.In particular, it is worth mentioning the attention that the Constitutional Court has assigned to this principle in the event of adoption and with respect to criminal matters.
141.Recently, with Judgement No. 385 of 14 October 2005, referring to what had been stated in the motives of a previous judgment, the Constitutional Court stated again that, as can be seen from the ratio under national regulatory measures to support motherhood, “the institutions established to protect motherhood, in particular maternity leaves and days off, no longer have, as it was in the past, the main and exclusive objective to protect the woman”, but are destined to the protection of the primary interest of the child “who must be protected not only for that which affects the most properly physiological needs, but also with reference to relations and affective needs that are linked with the development of his personality”.
142.As was already underlined in the previous report, the criterion of the best interest of the child is the foundation of the social policies and of the measures taken by local authorities that have functions related to childhood and adolescence support and promotion.
143.In the Government Plan of Action for 2000/200 the interest of the child, besides being the focus of the measures identified in it, is strongly underlined with reference to unaccompanied foreign children requesting asylum. With reference to the Government Plan of Action for 2002/2004, it began by underlining that the general principle affecting all the actions of the new Plan is the fundamental rule of the best interest of the child, as is stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All undertakings stipulated by Italy are also recalled in the final document of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly dedicated to Children, held in New York on 8–10 May 2002, and it is underlined that action lines are based on two points of this document: part 15, where the family is recognized as the basic unit of society and, as such, it should be strengthened and it is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support; and part 29, according to which the framework for actions concerning children, including adolescents, is given by the general principles of the best interests of the child, non discrimination, participation, survival and development.
144.Therefore, in the 2002–2004 Plan all the measures prepared aim at the full respect of this principle.
C.Life, survival and development
145.For the answers to the questions 20, 21, paragraph (c), 22 and 23 of the guidelines of the Committee on the Rights of the Child of 2005, see section VII, devoted to health and health-care services: it appears appropriate that the issues regarding health and the right to life, development and survival be analysed together because these issues are closely related.
D.Respect for the views of the child
Committee recommendation No. 26 on the right of children to be heard in courts and administrative proceedings
146.During the period of reference of this report (2000–2007), as to regulations on hearing children, non-negligible developments can be identified. Initially, the novelty and scope of article 12 of the Convention was not immediately perceived and understood in its entirety in the national context. It was believed that the provision needed implementation rules that would regulate its punctual implementation in the various trial proceedings. In other words, it was believed that article 12 would not be immediately executive, until Judgment 1/2002 of the Constitutional Court (reject interpretation) attributed to the statements in article 12 of the Convention a self-executing nature, on the basis of that established by Law 176/1991 for the ratification and execution of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In doing so, the content of article 12 was declared as immediately applicable and as a consequence no implementation legislative measure is necessary.
147.For greater clarity, a distinction should be made between, in this respect, civil and criminal context.
The civil context
148.Until the 1990s, the child was heard only in the cases mandatorily envisaged by law and in quite advanced age brackets (16, 14, 12 years of age with the exception of 10 years of age requested by article 371 of the Civil Code in order to give the probate judge the opportunity to decide with respect to the placement and education of the child within the framework of its protection). Following the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an innovation process started in this respect. In particular, with respect to the civil context, as was underlined in the introduction, a significant contribution to the application of article 12 was provided by Judgment 30/1/2002 of the Constitutional Court. In the case under examination, the issue of unconstitutionality was raised about article 336 second and third paragraph of the Civil Code and articles 737, 738 and 739 of the Criminal Code. This is a judgment through which the Court, since the judge had not experimented an “adjusting” interpretation of the relevant provision and because this is an interpretation issue which belongs to the powers of the judge, stated the issues of constitutional legitimacy of article 336 paragraph 3 of the Civil Code as unacceptable, where it does not envisage that a temporary decision taken in the case of urgent need without hearing parents and the child who is at least 12 must have a maximum duration established by law and must be, in compliance with the service-of-process rule, confirmed, modified or cancelled within a mandatory deadline of 30 days and that, if there is not actual urgent need, the decision is automatically void , with reference to articles 3 paragraph 1, 24 paragraph 2, and 111 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Constitution.
149.The Court provided a significant interpretation of the text of article 12 of the Convention stating that this provision is part of the national legal system and, as a consequence, it supplements where appropriate article 336 paragraph 2 of the Civil Code, making the child become a “party” in technical sense of the trial, implying the need for an adversarial proceeding against him, after appointing where necessary a special curator as is envisaged by article 78 of the Criminal Code.
150.As to the civil field, it must be stated that the modes of hearing a child are defined by Italian law in two areas, that is (1) the procedures to decide on the adoption and on foster care by the Juvenile Court under Law 476/1998 and Law 149/2001, and (2) the procedures for personal separation of parents under article 155 sexies of the Civil Code as elaborated by Law 54/2006 on shared custody.
151.As to the former case, the text of article. 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was first applied by Law 149/2001 on adoption and child custody (Amendments to Law 184 of 4 May 1983, on the “Regulation of child adoption and custody”, as well as to Title VIII of the first section of the Civil Code), by means of which the obligation to appoint a child counsel was introduced in adoption procedures (under article 8 of Law 149/2001) and in those limiting or cancelling parental authority (under article 37 of Law 149/2001), within the competence of the Juvenile Court. Law 149 also established a series of innovative elements. On the one hand, it envisaged the presence of the child counsel in each proceeding regarding authority issues and not only in the case of conflict of interest between the parents, thus better protecting the position of the child from negative behaviours of the parents against their children. On the other hand, it introduced the mandatory character of the technical defence of the child and the appointment of a lawyer, regardless of the ability of understanding of the child, contributing to a more punctual compliance with the right to a fair trial as established by article 111 of the Italian Constitution.
152.For the Italian legal system, Law 149/2001 represents the sign of a change in concept and culture. We can say that the analysis of the provisions of Law 149/2001 and of the judgment of the Constitutional Court shows that the child in trials for cancellation or limitation of parental authority not only has the right to be heard, but must be considered as a technical party to the proceeding, with the attribution, as a consequence, of the right to be protected by a lawyer. Law 149 introduced strong innovations in the Italian system raising many application critical issues that need further adjustments. In particular, article 37 amended articles 330, 333 and 336 of the Civil code, regarding authority on children. Because of such article, the judge can decide that the child is removed from the family house, but also the removal of the parent or partner who maltreats or abuses the child. In terms of procedure, the significant innovation should also be noted according to which “parents and children must be assisted by a counsel, also paid by the State, in the cases envisaged by law” (art. 336 last paragraph of the Civil Code). The coming into force of this provision was delayed various times, while waiting for a desirable detailed regulation to be issued, until 30 June 2007, when the last postponement expired. No implementation regulation has been issued thereafter that would regulate the modes of appointment of the counsel in these proceedings and the establishment of a register of reference. The immediate applicability of the provision under examination was then debated and the issue was positively solved by the prevalent judiciary praxis and doctrine. Protocols have therefore been drafted in the various judicial offices which, while waiting for some action from the legislator, regulate the modes of appointment of counsels and special curators of children.
153.Still with reference to the civil proceeding, as stated above, there is a second field where there are specific provisions regarding the hearing of the child, i.e. separation procedures under article 155 sexies of the Civil Code as drafted by Law 54/2006 on shared custody.
154.Law 54/2006, Provisions on parental separation and shared custody of children, introduced a hearing of the child in parental separation and divorce cases and in the trials for the custody of natural children. This regulation indifferently utilizes the words “hearing” and “listening”, which are equal in legal terms. The child however must be considered as a party in the trial but the doctrine believes that he is an “anomalous” party, because he has not acquired yet the same legal position of the adult that is a party to a trial. It must be pointed out that in this case the judge has not discretion on the decision regarding hearing the child but, in the full implementation of article. 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, only with respect to times (before or after the president’s decisions) and to the modes (direct, indirect, etc.). The law makes a difference based on the age of the child (12 years, though it is possible to hear also a younger child, if he is able to understand), but has the added value of recognizing a qualified interest with respect to the parental separation trial just in consideration of the consequences that the decisions taken during the trial will have on him.
155.Again with respect to child hearing in civil proceedings, another fundamental moment is worth a mention which has characterized recent years: the adoption of Law 77 of 20 March 2003, with which Italy ratified the European Convention on the exercise of the rights of the child of 25 January 1996. Law 77/2003 provides that when the child has achieved adequate maturity he has, in proceedings regarding him/her, the right to receive adequate and relevant information, to be consulted and to express his/her opinion and to be informed with respect to the possible consequences that his/her opinion might imply in practice and of the possible consequences of any decision (arts. 3 and 6 of the 1996 Convention). In any case, the 1996 Convention obliges the judge to take decisions by considering the interest of the child; therefore, if it is necessary to get more information, the judge has the opportunity to consult the child, considering his/her maturity and that envisaged by national law and with the most appropriate modes. These statements must be duly considered for the purposes of deciding. The initial choice of the legislator to allow limited implementation of the text of the Strasbourg Convention has been widely superseded by the coming into force of the above mentioned law on shared custody.
The criminal context
156.The regulation of child hearing within the framework of the criminal trial is more complex, where it is envisaged that the child (defendant, investigated or victim) is given written information and that the judge verbally describes to the defendant the meaning of the trial that concerns him (art. 1 provisions on criminal procedures for minors).
157.In particular, as to hearing a child victim or witness to crimes, experience has shown that child hearing poses many questions of content and procedure. Testimony, as evidence in the criminal trial, has a fundamental significance to take a decision regarding the liability of the defendant and the judge has been given a wide margin of assessment of the level of reliability of the child who is a victim or a witness, a level that can depend on many factors, such as the role of the witness, the fact of having directly seen the fact, relationships with the defendant, a possible involvement in the event. When the trial is on crimes of sexual abuse committed to the detriment of a child, the testimony of the injured person plays a central role, which however must be subject to rigorous and in depth filter from the judge, especially where other evidence is missing, trying to fulfil also protection needs with respect to the young age of the attacked person and, often, of the connections that unite him with the author of the violence.
158.In recent years, legislation has given operators a whole series of tools to optimize evidence acquisition procedures on children abuse, whose substantial regulation was deeply innovated by Law 66 of 15 February 1996 reforming “sexual” crimes — which also redefined rules taking to jail with respect to sexual violence against children (articles 609 bis and following of the Criminal Code) — as well as by the regulation on sexual exploitation of children envisaged by Law 269/1998, already examined in the previous report.
159.In particular, with reference to the tools of child witness examination and interlocutory witness exam, supplementing what had already been reported in previous report, an interesting decision of the Court of Justice of the European Community is worth a mention. According to this Judgment (which had been requested by the Italian judicial authorities), “Articles 2, 3 and 8(4) of Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings […] must be interpreted as allowing the competent national court to authorize young children, who claim to have been victims of maltreatment, to give their testimony in accordance with arrangements allowing those children to be guaranteed an appropriate level of protection, for example outside the trial and before it takes place”. Then the Judgment establishes that the national judge is obliged to take all the rules of the internal system into consideration and to interpret them, as far as possible, in the light of the letter and purpose of the Framework Decision.
160.With respect to the specific rules, article 392 of the Criminal Code establishes that during preliminary investigations the interlocutory witness exam can be utilized to take the testimony of a child aged under 16, also outside the assumption of paragraph 1 of article 392 of the Criminal Code. The purpose of this provision is to prevent the child-victim or witness from being obliged to testify during trial (which can take place also long time after the crime had been committed, a factor that might prevent him from starting a process of adequate and immediate psychological rehabilitation).
161.The examination of the child, during the interlocutory witness exam, can be carried out in the form of the so-called protected hearing, that is under such modes as to avoid the trial from scaring him. In particular, article 398 of the Criminal Code gives the judge the option to hear a child aged under 16 that has been a victim of crimes of sexual abuse and exploitation, slavery and trafficking by deciding on the place, time and adequate procedures with respect to the needs of the child. For this purpose, the hearing can also take place at the child’s home or in ad hoc places. The article also envisages that the child hearing, during the interlocutory witness exam, must be fully documented with sound or audio-visual recording systems and, in the event recording tools or technical staff are not available, the forms of technical expertise or technical consultancy are adopted.
162.Another fulfilment, envisaged by the Criminal Code, (art. 609 decies), is that pertaining to the Prosecutor’s office, which is the immediate notice to the Juvenile Court in the case a trial is made for one of the above mentioned crimes committed against a child. The same above-mentioned provision envisages that affective and psychological assistance is ensured to the child through the presence of the parents or other persons as indicated by the child, as well as assistance of children services of the Justice Administration or the Services established by the local authorities.
163.The interlocutory witness exam is then accepted (also in the light of Judgment 114 of 2001 of the Constitutional Court), for the hypotheses of sexual violence and also for other alleged crimes, of particular delicacy and complexity, such as those punished by article 572 of the Criminal Code (family maltreatments), article 571 of the Criminal Code (abuse of corrective or discipline measures), by article 573 of the Criminal Code (consensual abduction of children), by article 574 of the Criminal Code (abduction of unsound persons) and by article 591 of the Criminal Code (abandonment of children or unsound persons).
164.Besides, always to protect the personality of the child and for the purpose to respect the right to have a “fair trial”, as is established by article 111 of the Italian Constitution, Constitutional Law 63/2001, Amendments to the Criminal Code and to the Code of Criminal Procedure on Evidence Taking and Assessment in Pursuance of Constitutional Law Reforming a rticle 111 of the Constitution, has somehow taken into consideration the implementation of the constitutional principle in the case of criminal trial versus a person accused of sexual violence against a child. It has established in article 3 that the exam of a witness aged under 16, who has already made statements during the interlocutory witness exam or during the debate with the person against whom such statements will be utilized, is only admitted if it concerns other facts or circumstances that those object of the previous statements, that is if the judge or each of the parties deems it necessary on the basis of specific trial needs.
165.As to the modes of interviewing children during the debate, the rule of reference is article 498 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that envisages, as a general rule, that the judge leads the exam upon request and claim submitted by the parties, with the possible help of a relative of the child or an expert in child psychology. However, if the president believes that the direct exam of the child cannot harm his peace, after hearing the parties can state with an order that the child exam is carried out as usual. The same provision also envisages that, if the party requests so, or if the president deems it necessary, the exam is made in the forms of protected hearing envisaged for the interlocutory witness exam (art. 398 of the Code of Criminal Procedure), thus extending to all proceedings where a child witness must be heard the possibility of adopting protected modes. Furthermore, when proceeding for the crimes of slavery, trafficking, sexual exploitation or sexual violence, if the party or the counsel requests so, the examination of the child, victim of the crime is made by using a mirror glass together with an intercom. Another form of child protection is represented by the appointment of the special curator. Article 338 of the Code of Criminal Procedure envisages that if the injured person is aged under 14, the term to submit the claim starts from the day when the appointment was communicated to the special curator. The judge for preliminary investigations makes the appointment in the place of the injured person upon request by the Public Prosecutor. The appointment can be promoted also by the bodies in charge of the care, education, custody and assistance of children. This ensures appropriate trial representation from the beginning of the preliminary investigations, which is even more useful when the abuse was committed by the parents. The conflict of interest that is created mandates the appointment of a special curator. International Conventions state that he should be chosen from competent and prepared persons. The establishment of a list of particularly prepared lawyers for this task is therefore to be wished for.
166.Italy has started a path that is progressively designing a new type of trial regarding child-related issues, with more participation and more people and consequently richer in information and elements of knowledge to assess and to be used as a base for decisions.
V.Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7, 8, 13–17 and 37 (a))
167.Integrating with the previous report, we bring to your attention that in the period between 2000 and 2007, in the wake of new laws, there were some important regulatory interventions, with the corresponding implementations, aimed at giving greater scope to the instruments of protection for civil rights and freedoms, recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution to every person from birth as inviolable human rights, in accordance with a vision focusing on the equal dignity of each individual, taken both as an individual, as well as in the social setting in which their personality develops (articles 2 and 3 Const.). One can say that the Italian legal system is living through a phase of deep renewal directed towards the recognition of minors and their guaranteed rights, as for every person, established by the Constitution. In particular with the regulatory reforms for adoption brought into act by Law 386/1998 and by Law 149/2001, the right of the child to a personal identity in the new adoptive family received attention with regards to the knowledge of their history prior to the adoption and their views about the whole decision to adopt.
A.Name and citizenship
168.As for the immediate registration of the child at the time of birth, the Regulation for the revision and simplification of the civil status system approved by Presidential Decree 396/2000, requires a birth registration within three days — at the hospital — or 10 — at the town hall — from the birth date and foresees the possibility, where this is not the case, of a late notification (arts. 29, 30 and 31).
169.The phenomenon of non registration of birth can be said to be of little relevance and occurs mostly in the case of children born outside the hospital or nursing home, especially for illegal foreign mothers who subsequently do not report the birth for fear of being discovered by the authorities and therefore subject to expulsion or because they are concerned that their child might be removed due to their economic and housing conditions which does not allow them to take care of the child adequately. Where a case of non declaration is verified, immediate action is taken. In the case of children abandoned at birth, the obligation to give aid to the abandoned child falls on anyone who may find it. They should, as foreseen by article. 38 of Presidential Decree 396/2000 – entrust it to a family-type community (no longer an institute, as from 31 December 2006 each new entrance of a child in an Institute is prohibited) or a health structure. The director of the centre in turn must immediately notify the civil State official of the place where the child was found, who will then proceed to registration, informing the tutelary judge and the court for minors for the allotting of the respective tasks to the competent authorities (opening of the procedures for guardianship and adoption).
170.Italian law allows the mother and/or the father — married or not — to decide not to recognize the child, dictating the precautionary rules to ensure that this choice is free and not conditioned by precarious economic situations or transient emotional states related to childbirth. To this end parents must be properly informed of the possibilities of aid which may be made available and of their right to a period of time to change their mind. Where the decision of the parents not to recognise the child appears convincing, there follows the same procedure dictated for the birth registration of abandoned children, noting on the birth certificate that the child is of a woman who does not wish to be named. It is quite different however when the problem arises from children whose birth was not registered in the State where they were born, and who subsequently migrated to Italy with both or one parent or alone. These children often do not even know their own date and place of birth. In these cases the child has the name with which he has been called in the family but not a registered name and its non-existent birth certificate may not be issued in Italy. They are de facto stateless children due to the fact that they have not been registered and it is difficult for them to return to the country where they were born.
171.Assuming the case where a birth, brought about by assisted-reproduction techniques, has taken place through the use of heterologous fertilization, despite the fact that this practice is prohibited (art. 4 Law 40/2004), the law has provided, to protect the child, that it is registered as the child of the woman who gave birth and her spouse (or cohabiting partner who has acknowledged), thereby assuring the child a definite identity. In substance, a solution prevails which anchors parenthood to the procreative choice, made by the couple, and not to the biological bond, while remaining, between the child and the third donor of gametes; the identity of the child is anchored definitively to the name of those who have desired and wanted a child. Consequently it is not possible to deny paternity, either for the spouse of the woman who has been subjected to this practice, or by the co-habiting partner who has agreed on the basis of “conclusive acts”. In addition, the donor of gametes, always in the case of heterologous fertilization effected in violation of the legal ban, does not acquire any “legal parental rights to the child and may not be subject to any laws or obligations”.
172.Relative to the condition of the mother of a child born due to the use of the techniques in question, whether this is a homologated fertilization or (although, in violation of the Law) heterologous fertilization, the Law 40/2004 provides that the mother, after consciously wanting the child, may not request to be unnamed, contrary to what may occur in “biological” parentage (in the application of article. 30, c. 1 of Presidential Decree 396/2000).
The right to name and surname
173.On the birth certificate (art. 29 of Presidential Decree 396/2000) must be designated “the place, year, month, day and time of birth, personal details, citizenship, the residence of the legitimate parents as well as those who declare biological parentage and of those who have expressed by public act their consent to be appointed, the sex of the child and the name given to him/her”. At the time of birth registration the declarant gives the name to the child, but should they not the right of the child to a name is equally assured as in this case the public official may proceed. As a rule, in addition, the public official chooses the name, together with the surname, when it concerns a child who has not been recognized by its parents.
174.With reference to the surname, the provisions applicable to children are different when referring to children born in marriage (also called legitimate), for legitimized children (such as biological children who are acknowledged as legitimate children following a judicial declaration, marriage between the parents or by a statement from the parents through a private act inter vivos or mortis causa), for biological children, for children born with the assisted-procreation techniques and for adopted children. The legitimate children take the surname of the father. Also legitimized children, as for legitimate children, take the surname of the father after the legitimization, if the legitimacy occurs when they are still under age (art. 33, para. 2, Presidential Decree 396/2000). For biological children the situation is more complex (art. 262 Civil Code). If they are recognized jointly by both parents at the time of the registration of birth, they take the father’s surname; the same applies if it is the father who recognizes them first. If they are recognized only by the mother, they assume her surname. Finally if, subsequent to the maternal recognition, when they are still under age, the father recognizes them or if this is done so in the wake of a legal judgment, the Juvenile Court shall deliberate as to whether they have to keep the name of the mother, replace the name of the mother with that of the father, or keep the name of the mother before or after that of the father (art. 262 para. 3 Civil Code content integrated by the Constitutional Court).
175.With reference to children (of couples, heterosexual, married or otherwise) born after recourse to the medically assisted-reproduction techniques, Law 40/2004 provides (art. 8), they have the same status as those born by biological union between parents, that is, respectively, the state of legitimate children. Also if they are children of a married couple, children that have been officially recognized or children of unmarried partners, with the consequent application of rules for attribution of the surname provided for respectively for legitimate and biological children.
176.Finally in full adoption the child takes the surname of the adoptive father replacing its own (art. 27, para. 1, Law 184/1983), while simple adoption, which occurs in special cases, the child takes the name of the adopter in front of his/her own (art. 55 Law 184/1983 and art. 299 Civil Code).
The right to citizenship
177.Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child asks that, as an immediate effect of the birth registration, each child has the right to acquire a nationality, and therefore cannot be considered a stateless person. As referred to in the previous report, the Italian legislation for acquiring citizenship, dictated by Law 91/1992, which has not undergone substantial changes, responds to this request. One points out, however, some appropriate specifications for the acquisition of automatic citizenship for foreign child adopted by Italian citizens. This occurs whatever the type of adoption and whenever it occurred (art. 3 Law 91/1992), and therefore for the adopted child the right to citizenship is fully implemented. Since, moreover, in mind of article 34, paragraph 3, of the Law 184/1983 (as amended by Law 476/1998) the acquisition of Italian citizenship by adopted foreign minors is realized with the transcription in the registers of the State of origin of the adoption. The Ministry of the Interior has stated with a circular that the transcription of the adoption does not give Italian nationality, but it is the condition to bring it into effect, after its transcription, the foreign national can request citizenship “with retrospective effect” from the date of the registration, namely from the date of adoption.
B.Preservation of identity
Committee recommendation No. 28 on the child’s right to know his or her parents’ identity and the condition of children born out of wedlock and his/her relationship with his/her parents
178.Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child affirms, as a result of the birth registration, the right of every child, as far as possible, to know their parents and to be cared for by them, and, as a development of this principle, article. 8 of the Convention commits States parties to respect the right of the child to preserve their identity, including their nationality, name and family relations without any interference. This right receives full recognition in article 30 of the Italian Constitution of 1948, which says that it is the duty and the right of parents to maintain, raise and educate their children, even those born outside marriage, and that only in the event of unfitness on the part of the parents does the law allow release from these tasks. This was confirmed in an even better way on the occasion of the reform, which occurred with Law 149/2001, of Law 184/1983 on adoption which now has the title right of the child to a family, which says in article. 1: “The child has the right to grow up and be educated in the context of the family. The conditions of poverty of the parents or those exercising parental responsibility must not be an obstacle to exercising the right of the child to his/her own family. To this end, in favour of the family, various aid and support packages are available.”
179.The right of the child to preserve their identity can be read, however, above all as the right of the child to know the identity of their biological parents in those situations where they have been adopted by other people or when the biological parents have not recognized them. Welcoming the call of the Committee, Italy, with Law 149/2001, has taken steps to regulate (in the new article 28 of Law 184/1983) access to information on the adoption and on the biological parents.
180.It is now expected that the child should always be informed of his condition as an adopted child. The law has assigned the duty of informing to the adoptive parents, leaving them free to decide the best way and manner, in relation to the psycho-emotive conditions and the maturity of the child.
181.The adoptee is also recognized the right of access to information about the identity of his/her biological parents, with limits and conditions determined in consideration of the delicacy of the possible consequences on the psyche of the adoptee and his/her relations with the adoptive parents, as well as the condition of a child who has not been recognized. In summary: (a) the adoptee is never allowed access to information in the case where he/she has not been recognized and the biological parent has decided to remain unnamed; (b) In all other cases the adoptee who has reached 25 years of age has the possibility of accessing information concerning his/her origin and the identity of his/her biological parents; (c) the adoptee who has reached 18 years of age but not yet 25 years may obtain such information only if there are serious and proven reasons relating to his/her psychophysical health.
182.The choice to delay giving the adoptee information on their origins until 25 years of age aims, in conditions of delayed adolescence, to prevent the traumas of advance knowledge of situations linked to identity for those who might not have yet reached full psychophysical maturity.
183.In turn the policy option not to allow the adoptee access to the information identifying the biological mother who has refused to be recognized came from the consideration that the prospect of being sought after by the child could encourage some mothers to avoid childbirth in conditions protected by a hospital and, therefore, to a illegal abandonment of the newborn. The guarantee of anonymity should however help the mother, who may ask for a short time to reflect better, to be aided and assisted to decide freely to recognize the child, being psychologically calmer when she knows that she will not be sought after. In any case giving the information to the adoptee would always be difficult or impossible as the name of the biological mother is not on the birth certificate.
184.In line with this choice the Italian legislator has decided not to create mechanisms for unrecognized children to trace their mothers and also mechanisms for verifying over time the will of the Mother not to disclose her identity (this legislative choice has been declared legitimate even by the Constitutional Court). Furthermore it has been decided not to retain documents relative to the birth with the name of the mother who does not wish to recognize her child. It did not seem, moreover, as in most cases always follows immediate adoption (art. 11 Law 184/1983), that one harms the identity of the child with regards to the biological mother that they have never known. This solution is consistent with that adopted for assisted heterologous insemination, in which equally one knows with certainty the identity of a parent (the donor of gametes or ovums) but where it is not recorded or recognized as a component of the child’s identity. In both situations a loving family is preferred as the child’s one and only and, therefore, as the family with whom they root their identity from the beginning of life.
185.The right of children to preserve their own identity with reference to the knowledge of the first parents that have recognized them also involves some experimenting, by some courts, in the practice of so-called mild adoption or, in other words, the practice of forms of open adoption, according to adoptive models that were once less used (see section VI (F)).
186.As far as the ratification of the European Convention on the legal status of children born outside of marriage, the past Government submitted a bill (No. 2514, now lapsed at the end of the XV legislature) on “delegation to the Government for the revision of the rules in the field of filiation” for the introduction of a new regulation for filiation contained in the civil code in order to eliminate the disparities in treatment between legitimate, legitimized and biological, children, and to ensure the balancing in general of the rights of children born out of wedlock to those born inside it.
C.Freedom of expression
The right to express one’s own opinion and to be heard and taken into consideration
187.Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child had a strong impact in Italy by making central the right of the child to be heard in the family, school and in judicial procedures that concern him/her.
188.As for listening in the family, their need was derived from the view (art. 157 Civil Code) that marriage requires from both spouses the obligation to maintain, instruct and educate their offspring, taking into account the capacity, the natural inclination and aspirations of the child.
189.Also with regard to listening at school it is understood that it is a teacher’s duty and, in this respect, it has been proposed to affirm more explicitly the rights of students in the charter for rights and duties for male and female students.
190.Finally, with reference to listening in judicial and administrative procedures, see section IV (D).
191.In the wake of this one should register the choice made by article 4 of Decree No. 211 of 24 June 2003 (implementing directive 2001/20/EC on the application of good clinical practices in the carrying out of clinical trials on medicines for clinical use), with reference to the clinical trial on children, which requires that the consensus from the legal representative of the child reflect the will of the latter, which presupposes a duty to listen to them.
The right to seek receive and divulge information of every kind
192.The right of the child not only to be listened to, but, in a fuller sense, to seek, receive and disseminate information of every kind, is general. The search for information is free, for adults as well as for children.
193.The practical exercise of the right to information, has revealed no case in which foreign children present in Italy have been forbidden to read some book or newspaper or to view a show or to receive some type of information linked to the history, the political events and culture of their country. Finally, regarding the dissemination of information, it should be recalled that, in accordance with article 21 of the Constitution, all, and thus also children, Italian or foreign ones, have the right to freely express their thoughts, written and by any other means, within the limit of good manners.
D.Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Committee recommendation No. 30 on not compulsory Catholic religious instruction
The issue of teaching religion at school
194.With the revision of the agreement between the State and the Catholic Church it has been established that the attendance at lessons on the Catholic religion — prescribed as one hour per week, in primary, middle and high school, from teachers designated by the Catholic Church — is optional, as has been expressly confirmed, already in 1989, also by the Constitutional Court. The possibility to choose to use them or not is given to the parents in representation of the under 14 child and directly to the student at that age and over.
195.For the pupils of middle and high school who do not avail themselves of religious teaching three possibilities exist: follow an alternative subject, have one hour of individual study or leave the school in advance or return later, when religious teaching is in the first hour or in the last hour at school.
196.However, the fact that the teaching of the Catholic religion is present “within compulsory school hours” of Italian public schools has raised some fears in certain situations. In fact, the option of not attending is certainly easier when students who do not want to follow the teaching in question have already reached an age when they do not have to be monitored and can remain within the establishment or start later or leave earlier, depending on the time of the lesson. When the child finds him/herself in the first cycle of education (namely attending preschool or primary school), in the age group, respectively, between 3 and 5 years and between 5 and 10 years, leaving the class and having something alternative to do can create greater problems. In a circular (22 April 2008, n. 45) from the Ministry of Education, with indications for the career path for school children and for the first cycle of education relative to instruction in the Catholic religion, it is stated that “the teaching of the Catholic religion is governed by agreements in force. The goals for the development of skills and learning objectives will be defined together with ecclesiastical authority, as agreed”.
197.And in fact, the Minister of Education has considered acceptable the proposal made by the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference on the revision of the current indications for teaching the Catholic religion, in order to harmonize the position of this discipline in the new curriculum of preschools and primary schools.
198.In the case of children attending preschools and primary schools, a solution has been found that makes it possible to meet the needs of religious minorities. This is to exclude any imposition which constitutes direct and indirect forms of proselytism (of any religious faith) and does not affect the rights of other faiths different from the Catholic one, allowing, where possible, the presence of ministers of those faiths.
199.The relation between religion and the educational system is more specific in the private school system, where the inherent exercise of freedom of religion for children is balanced with the educational choices of their parents, according to criteria for finding an appropriate point of balance, determinable by only taking into account the specificity of the individual cases, in the light of the age and degree of maturity of the child. Because the frequency of these types of schools, called “Equal”, presupposes a choice by parents and the child if in the age of discernment, there are no particular problems as regards the law in question, provided that the training path does not conflict with the fundamental principles of Italian law (therefore without charges of fundamentalist attitudes, etc.). Instead, in the context of public schools, which are accessed for free and open to all with no distinction to citizenship, language or religion, it is an indispensable requirement for the teaching of the Catholic religion that it does not conflict with the freedom of conscience of the parents, nor with that of pupils, in accordance with constitutional provisions.
The limits of the child’s autonomy and freedom with regard to parents
200.Another issue that calls into play the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is that relating to their level of autonomy and self-determination with respect to the wishes and the imposition of parents.
201.Children are not the absolute arbitrators of their own lives, prone during their development to compare themselves with their parents. The parents have a duty to take care of them, to play an educational role in their integration into social life, according to a gradual path of development, along which they accompany the child constantly. The educational task of parents, as the law has for some time affirmed, cannot use coercive means (physical violence or psychological pressures), and has limits of rights over the freedom of the child. The legislation and case-law have found a difficult balance between the educational responsibility of parents and the inclinations of the child.
202.In some typical cases the law recognizes the child full self-determination unconditioned by parental representation and by a decision of the judge: they must give express consent to their adoption if they are older than 14 years (art. 25 Law on adoption); they may conclude a contract of employment for the work that they can do in relation to their age (art. 2, para. 2 Civil Code); they have the right to request diagnostic tests, even in the laboratory, and treatment if the symptoms which emergence are of a sexually transmitted disease (art. 4 Law 25 July 1956, n. 837 on the reform of the legislation for the prophylaxis for venereal diseases, articles 9 and 14 of the relative regulation issued with Presidential Decree 27 October 1962, n. 2056) and may personally request check-ups from the heads of local health departments, as well as therapeutic interventions and rehabilitation when using drugs of a non-therapeutic nature (art. 120 Presidential Decree 9 October 1990, No. 309); they can request the administering, on medical prescription, of the necessary means for the freedom of choice regarding responsible procreation (art. 2 Law 27 May 1978, No. 194 on interrupting pregnancies).
203.Beyond these limited cases, the law comes to a similar conclusion regarding the will of the child, providing in such a way that the parents, teachers, social workers, health workers, judges and all those involved with the child consider his/her opinions and from these same derive guidance for a decision. In particular the consideration of the views of the child as potentially important and decisive, even if not corresponding to the will or to the wishes of the parents, refers to the exercise of very personal rights relating to choices of religion, politics, social, health, associations, cultural, study and work, to freedom of expression and opinion in the family and outside, and also to some extent to life styles; less to paternal questions.
204.The opinion of the children should be assessed in relation to their level of reasoning. For example let us say that the subject under consideration is a therapeutic treatment considered by health experts essential but refused by the child and/or by the parents, we might find the basis for the child’s refusal to be quite weak (such as the fear of suffering after an operation) or acceptable under the profile of benefits (the possibility of alternative actions, the high probability that the treatment is not effective).
205.As a second criterion, when considering the minor’s opinion the age and maturity of the child must be considered. This refers to the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine of Oviedo, 1997, ratified with Law 28 March 2001, n. 145, of which article 6, paragraph 1, in the limited field of health care but with a statement that may have a more comprehensive bearing. It contains an explicit provision concerning the child’s opinion: “the opinion of the child is taken into account as an ever more critical factor, in the light of their age and the degree of maturity”. It is thus said that, when the minor is mature and approaching that age, his/her opinion may in some cases be decisive in making the decisions that concern him/her, even judicial, also against the wishes of the parents. In any case it considers that a medical treatment or a extra-family adoption, when the child is approaching the age of majority, may be refused by the child: in this case one certainly cannot use force, perhaps with the intervention of judicial officials.
206.A third criterion is that of the nature of the rights under consideration. Especially when it concerns very personal rights, political choices and religious inclinations to special inclinations towards a school or an occupation, the opinion of the child must be decisive even if contrary to the will of the parents. For a long time, in law it has been an orientation that does not consider justified and acceptable prohibitions or orders, by parents, in contrast with personal choices about the future made by a child who, by age and maturity, has demonstrated that they have achieved the necessary capacity to decide. Each action taken by parents that prevents them from making decisions and to the realization of their own project of life must be considered prejudicial.
207.The range of situations in which a conflict may emerge between the educational programme of the parents and the wishes of the children are many, too many to be listed. Among the concrete cases that have been presented, as regards religious choices, it is clear that if the parents have the right to educate the child in a determined belief, there is also the right of the child to develop freely as a citizen following his/her own religious inclinations which may conflict with the wishes of the parents. Therefore, the educational choices of the parents inspired by religious values (for example, attending faith schools, participating in rites and events linked to a certain belief) are to be considered compatible with the objective of ensuring the child a balanced growth, aimed at his/her integration in the social context in which he/she lives, only if such places him/her in a position of exercising his/her rights with autonomy and freedom.
208.The question of autonomy and freedom of children in the religious choice is also a source of conflict between parents with regard to educational options. In the case of a foreign parent who removed the child from the place of family residence to take him/her, against the will of the other parent, to the country of origin in order to make him/her follow an educational path closely linked to the rules and principles of a specific culture, influenced by the values of a clearly religious nature, the Court of Cassation has considered that there was a violation of the right of the child to be raised and educated in their own family, injured by a very grave unilateral imposition. As the Court underlined, the legal safeguards to promote the sharing by the parents of educational projects, such as those responsible for the protection of the right of the child to receive an upbringing inspired by the principles of freedom, are very important, if relating to “fundamental aspects regarding the existence of the child: the country in which he/she is brought to live, the language to learn (or to forget), the basic values in which he/she will be educated and the individual and public freedoms which he/she can enjoy”.
209.Also inadmissible are the educational choices of parents which are based on sex, ethnicity, language or religion of the child, or which are harmful to his/her cultural identity or do not give due emphasis to the choices of the child tied to his/her religious or cultural options, if he/she has come of age and to a level of maturity so as to ensure his/her full self-determination. Protecting the condition of the child on this subject, pluralism is encouraged, made both by preventing and hindering the rise and the persistence of attitudes aimed at univocal reference models (cultural, social, political and religious) and allowing space for different models compared with those traditional or dominant ones.
210.There are sometimes presented, and under discussion in the Italian courts, events in which one must define borders, the crossing of which could be considered damaging for the freedom of the child, with respect, for example, to the choice of wearing or not certain types of clothing, carrying certain religious symbols or submitting to practices that may affect the body; which occurs in the case of girls being subject to non-therapeutic medical procedures, in accordance with millennial tribal practices even today still rooted in some ethnic groups. These may leave clear marks, both physical and mental, as in the case of adolescents, who, to reach an ideal aesthetic model, subject themselves to plastic surgery. For further details on these issues, see sections IV and VI. In these instances one must consider the specific characteristics of each individual case, in order to find a valid point of balance that will prohibit any form of coercion on the child (coercion to be considered present even if the child manifests consent, particularly when it has been established that this consensus is not full and conscious).
The limits of autonomy and freedom of the child with regards to institutions
211.Beyond cases of intrafamily conflicts (between parents and children), one may have other situations in which the contrast is, so to speak, external, that is between the family educational model, especially if inspired by fundamentalist views which deny dignity to those who do not belong to a circle of faithful, and the constitutional values, which are undoubtedly expressions of pluralism even in the religious sphere.
212.In this case the evaluation of the lawfulness of the choice is quite separate from the fact that there is or not a desired agreement between the child and the parents, given that a subject in childhood and adolescence is often more susceptible than an adult, and is not always able to understand the scope of the future consequences from adhering to a fundamentalist position. The risk of exposing the child to real exclusion from the social reality in which they live is also presented when the child follows the peculiar “directives” given by the parents (for example, to preclude or restrict school education, knowledge of the Italian language and culture, preparation for following a profession) and if so by this there is an apparent sharing of intentions. Therefore, their interests must be protected even when the choices of parents are shared by the child but in conflict with the essential rules accepted by Italian law, grounded in constitutional values of equality, pluralism, democracy and respect for the equal dignity and freedom of every person.
213.In particular cases there is the problem of ensuring effective preventative action, to stop behaviour which might be considered at times, by members of the family nucleus, harmful to the health, both physical and mental, of those most vulnerable in the family, and, therefore, particularly to children. It is this aspiration which is behind Law No. 7 of 9 January 2006, laying down Provisions Concerning the Prevention and Prohibition of the Practice of Female Genital Mutilation, directed at giving greater protection not only to girls but also to women from the risk of suffering similar practices. While stiffer penalties are emerging in this sector (art. 6), increased by a third if the person undergoing mutilation is under age, the new law provides encouragement in various ways from information campaigns and educational initiatives, the collection of data and the activation of measures to encourage the reporting (also anonymous) of risk situations. In this connection it should be noted that in 2005 and in 2006, the Department for Equal Opportunities promoted and supported the creation of an information campaign and deterrence on the practice of female genital mutilation.
214.A sector with many sensitive issues with regard to the right of the child to conscious self-determination is that of choices inherent in sexual identity, cases where change of gender is requested, which is possible in Italy under Law 164/1982. Judicial authorization is required and as it is a matter of discretion linked to each individual case, results may differ.
E.Freedom of association and peaceful assembly
215.As already related in the previous report, the exercise of the rights of association and peaceful assembly do not undergo special restrictions in the case of children. These are rights accorded to every citizen, regardless of age, except for where necessary precautions are required due to the need to assure safety in consideration of the places where one can manifest such forms of freedom, and save for those sanctions laid down by legislators (to create criminal associations with political aims through organizations of a military nature). For meetings, forewarnings or authorizations are not required, should these be conducted in private places or places open to the general public, while for meetings that take place in public places the organisers must give notice to the authorities who may be legitimately entitled to prohibit them, though only for proven reasons of security or public safety (art. 17 Const.). The ordinary law does not operate restrictions regarding the recognition and the exercise of such rights, irrespective of whether those people involved have or do not have Italian citizenship.
216.As a supplement to the previous report with reference to public meetings, we must mention the approval of a law aimed to prevent violence in the course of sporting events, in which minors are also often involved, either as authors or as victims. The Decree No. 8 of 8 February 2007, converted by Law. 41 of 4 April 2007, has set out limitations for access to sporting venues for safety reasons, extended expressly to “children below 18 but who are 14 or over”. The ban, of a maximum duration of three years, regards people who have been “reported or sentenced during the last five years, even when cases were not concluded” for having taken drugs or for having engaged in violence during sporting events. They may be required “to appear in person one or more times” at the provincial headquarters of the police or the police station responsible for the area indicated by the order. These appearances may be at certain times of the day in which there are sporting events that they are forbidden to participate at.
217.At the same time, this new legislation has provided a measure of incentive for children to participate in an orderly and peaceful manner at sporting events.
F.Protection from arbitrary or legal interference
218.The private life of the child receives a high level of protection from any interference detrimental to the sphere of confidentiality. Interference that is not justified by reasons of law or which is care related. The protection is evident in a particular way for the different areas of privacy (personal, family, emotional), of the areas in which the child lives (home, education, health) and the possible ways in which the interference may occur (paper records, computer databases, dissemination of news through the media, photographic reproduction, transmission of images via television, on the Internet, with video-telephones or instruments of electronic communication, etc.).
219.However, interference in the private life of a child who is under care, protection from risks of danger and to health, is considered lawful. This covers, for example, the checks made by parents (or those who have equal power) as to whether the child is exposed to risks or is carrying out activities harmful to his/her physical well being, not making contact with individual or potentially negative environments for his/her good development, attending school or follow training courses. As regards parents reading the child’s correspondence or diary, this may be lawful when certain aspects are in the balance (for example, protection of the psychophysical well being and confidentiality of the child), and the need for protection prevails.
220.As already said in the previous report, the child’s right to privacy with respect to external interference from their family is protected, above all, by criminal law, which is aimed at protecting each individual from harm to their private life. So are the provisions protecting correspondence (arts. 616 and 618 Criminal Code), residence (art. 614 Criminal Code), images (art. 615 bis Criminal Code), and data relating to the personal sphere of the individual and the confidentiality in the area of informatics (art. 617-bis Criminal Code).
221.Technological innovations have extended the possibility of children being exposed to particularly invasive forms of interference in their sphere of confidentiality, through the diffusion, without consent, of films, photographs and sound recordings on the Internet or through cell phones and video cell phones. Even if consent were given, their age might still make a case for the illegality of the interference. In any of these situations the violation of privacy is sufficiently serious to be considered a crime (as in situations covered by the new rules in the field of child pornography via the Internet referred to in Law No. 38 of 6 February 2006).
222.The protection, a preventive and inhibitory type, occurs through the use of different instruments. The Law No. 675 of 1996, on the protection of personal data, has put into place, for the first time, a wide form of protection against the possible interference in private life, respecting the treatment of personal data, including “sensitive data”, activities to reveal the racial and ethnic background; philosophical, religious or other convictions; membership of parties, trade unions, associations; the state of health and the sexual life of the person. The following code with respect to the protection of personal data, issued with legislative decree No. 196 of 30 June 2003, has given the appropriate “fine tuning”, with other provisions, among which some relating specifically to the privacy of minors. Thus, for example, the code in respect to the protection of personal data, in article 50, extends a ban which was previously limited to images of minors involved in criminal procedures (art. 13 provisions on criminal procedures involving minors), prohibited divulging images or news allowing the identification of any child involved, “in whatever way”, in any judicial procedure, “also non criminal”. The system already provided other more specific rules to protect the confidentiality of minors in court cases: personal details and images of minors are prohibited until they have reached the age of consent when they are witnesses or persons hurt or damaged by a crime, unless there is an authorization from the Juvenile Court or the consent of the child who is over 16 years (arts. 114, para. 6, and 115- Criminal Code); and the disclosure of personal details and images of the offended person is punished, whether they are at the age of minority or majority, when the following acts are involved: sexual violence, such as prostitution and child pornography, child sex tourism to the detriment of minors, corruption of minors and sexual acts committed with minors (art. 734-1a Criminal Code).
223.Great importance is given to the protection of the confidentiality of children following a Code of Ethics, which the guarantor for the protection of personal data must promote (arts. 133 and 134 code for the protection of personal data). The Code of Ethics on the treatment of personal data in the exercise of journalistic activity, adopted in application of L 31 December 1996, No. 675, drawn up by the National Council of the Order of Journalists and adopted by the provision of the guarantor of 29 July 1998, was “incorporated” in the annexes inside the code with respect to the protection of personal data, while being devoid of legislative force. With this the journalists have fulfilled their obligation (art. 7, para. 3. 1 and 2) of not publishing the name of children involved in news items and not providing information that may enable their identification, not only in the presence of crime but in all other cases, in order to protect the personality of children. It also states (art. 7, para. 3), that the child’s right to confidentiality must always be considered as primary compared with the right of criticism and reporting. If, however, for reasons of overriding public interest and without violating the limits of the law, the journalist decides to disseminate news or images regarding children, he should shoulder the responsibility of assessing whether the publication is really in the objective interest of the Child, according to the principles and the limits established by the “Charter of Treviso”.
224.Other provisions uphold the confidentiality of an adopted minor. It is prohibited for anyone who is aware by reason of their office to provide any information necessary for tracing an adopted child or related to the adoption of a child (art. 73 Law 184/1983). Furthermore, any attestation of civil status relating to an adoptee must submit only his/her new surname and be devoid of references to fatherhood and maternity (art. 28, para. 3. 2 and 3 Law 184/1983).
G.Access to appropriate information
225.In the debate on the condition of infancy and adolescence the theme of the right of children to have access to appropriate information has held a central position in Italy over the past decade. Also many studies in the context of teaching, sociology, medicine and legality have paid great attention to the way in which the means of mass communication deal with facts and problems relating to children and adolescents (i.e. the report on “media and children”).
226.From this double perspective; protection of children in the field of information has therefore developed in two directions:
(a)Promoting quality programmes, education regarding images and a conscious use of the media;
(b)Protecting children from the negative influence and interference of the means of mass communication in their private lives.
Against television as a “bad teacher”
227.With the growth of the image and entertainment culture through radio, TV, Internet, video games and videophones, a main priority appears to be to protect the young from transmissions and content of poor quality and the models and negative values proposed. For television as a “bad teacher”, one imputes the dissemination of programmes and advertising messages deemed unsuitable for the young age of the recipients, as anti-educational, violent, vulgar, superficial or otherwise harmful to the development of personality. All the more serious as television exposure time for young Italians has grown exponentially, with children often left alone with the small screen, without the support of adults and without significant cultural alternatives. To combat these negative effects there have been many legislative and administrative interventions and it is appropriate to list the fields and content, to evaluate the effectiveness and to recognize the limits within which they have occurred. Subsequent to Law 6 August 1990, n. 223, and the Law July 31, 1997, n. 249, which was the Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM), having the task of supervising and imposing penalties of a pecuniary type up to the suspension of concessions in those cases of serious abuse — as already covered in the previous report — the Decision No. 538 /01/csp of 26 July 2001 of AGCOM has approved the regulation on radio and television advertising and teleshopping containing some specific indications about television programmes intended for children. In response to it the authority for the guarantee of communications has established that the codes of advertising self-regulation apply to all broadcasters, applying a single sign recognizable in programs dedicated to children.
228.A regulation (art. 51) of Law 39/2002 of the implementation of Community Directive 200/31/EC has added that teleshopping may not have content and forwarding messages such as to cause moral or physical damage to the development of children, nor rely on their inexperience or credulity to induce them to conclude contracts of sale or rental for products or services.
229.The service contract between the Ministry of Communications and RAI-Radiotelevisione Italiana S.p.a. for the period 2003–2005, signed on 23 January 2003, has provided in turn specific television programming aimed at minors (art. 6). The most significant act in question was, however, the minors and TV self-regulatory code signed on 29 November 2002 by public television companies and private broadcasters and from members of the associations which signed up. The code deals with the protection of the rights and mental and moral integrity of minors, with particular attention and reference to the weak age range (0–14 years). It therefore regulates the minors use of television by providing in television programming a so-called band “for all” (from 7.00 to 22.30) and the so-called “protected” band of “television for children” (from 16.00 to 19.00); also, there are different levels of protection for advertising in place in the different hourly bands, in particular that from 16.00 to 19.00.
230.At the beginning of 2003 a Committee was formed for the application of the TV and minors Self-regulation Code which works in collaboration with the authorities and has the power to require the termination of broadcasts in the event of violations, processing ex officio or on the recommendation of users and associations. At the end of 2003, the Committee had had 355 valid reports of violations and promoted ex officio various actions, with 90 cases. At the End of 2005, in the three-year report of the Committee for TV and minors self-regulation Code, the following 132 violations were found: 59 for Mediaset, 38 for RAI, 12 for La7 and 23 for local television. Despite the concrete follow up for some cases, the application of sanctions has emerged as the weak element of the system according to the Committee.
231.The TV and children Self-regulation Code was fully implemented by Law 112 of 3 May 2004 laying down rules of principle in organizing the broadcasting system and the RAI – Radio Televisione Italiana SpA – as well as a governmental proxy for a unified code for radio and television.
For the secure use of the Internet
232.The Internet too, with access to the “universal library” and the unlimited possibility of exchange and expression, especially in the recent layout of web, social networking, imposed new measures to protect minors against the “risk” of the Internet. In particular there are new requirements for the protection of minors relative to the privacy of personal data and the dangers of scams, relationships and dangerous encounters, and the viewing of pornographic sites or at least those not suitable to the needs of the development of those subjects. At the same time, it has been made clear that there is a need to discourage illegal and incorrect behaviour by the minors themselves.
233.Against the snares that the network may reserve for younger users, the children and the internet self-regulatory code was proposed and signed on 19 November 2003 by the Minister of Communications and by the Minister for Technological Innovation with the most representative associations of providers. According to the principle of co-regulation, the industry has committed itself to adopt and to be ruled by them, and a body under public control shall ensure respect for the same rules in a sort of “regulated self-regulation”. The providers of access to the Internet who join up to the code shall undertake to manage data which is important for the protection of minors and to combat child pornography online by collaborating with the competent authorities, in particular with the postal service police. Thus there has been introduced the identification mark and guarantee (email@example.com) for suitable web pages of information on the use of a secure Internet, the differentiated navigation services, the classification of the contents, systems for the detection of the age of the user while respecting the rules regarding the retention of personal data, the safekeeping of passwords for accessing services, anonymity protection even if the access suppliers who have signed up to the code must be informed of the real personal identity of the subject who is granted the benefit of anonymity.
234.The supervision of the correct application of the code is entrusted to a committee of guarantors with powers of surveillance and reporting, composed of 11 members appointed from among the provider associations, the relevant Ministries and the associations for the protection of children. The penalties provided for are: a warning, censure, the revocation of authorization to use the mark “Internet and children” and, lastly, the publication of the reasons for the measures taken.
Promotion of quality programmes and activities for image education and a conscious use of media
235.The concern for defending children and protecting them from inappropriate intrusions goes with the need to encourage a positive use of the means of communication. The dissemination of technology with their immense versatility has indeed created new cognitive scenarios and experiences; and interactivity has opened, especially for young people, huge areas of expression for relations and participation. But children and adolescents cannot tackle these new territories alone, regardless of how they are protected by laws and systems of control. They should be guaranteed adequate training, with the help of adult points of reference, so that they can develop new and appropriate knowledge and skills.
236.Departing from this requirement, attention in Italy is paid to ensuring specific training for young people with regards to the use of media. In play is a decisive game for the progress of the rights of children also with regards to overcoming the digital divide, namely exclusion from access and active use of the media for children who are economically and culturally disadvantaged. Against this digital divide in 2007 the Ministry for Communications created the site “Ti6connesso”, with the collaboration of the Italian charity Save the Children Onlus and Microsoft. The site proposes information and content, multimedia too, for children, so as to help them understand and interact better with the internet world. It furthermore provides instruments for parental control, which can be downloaded free of charge. It is also meant for parents and teachers, providing information to assist and guide children towards a sure and safe navigation.
237.Access for all children to appropriate information has found a good response in the field of books and of public libraries. Publishing has increased the offer for children and, across the country, the network of specialized libraries has expanded, also through mobile initiatives such as the “bibliobus”. Between the many good practices one may add that activated by the Ministry for Cultural Activities: A suitcase of books that travels with you, a small library travelling on a school bus across provinces (in 2000 about 50,000 children were involved). Moreover, there were many campaigns and projects to stimulate the habit of reading in the younger generations, including a project ‘born to read’ for parents with small children. Among the activities promoted by the Ministry of Education is highlighted the Amico Libro (Book Friend) an agreement between the Ministry, local and Italian publishing associations, which distributes to all the schools a resource of €1,000 aimed at buying books. Amico Libro is still in place, and has been combined with the project Scuola aperta (Open School), the opening of schools in the afternoon, in order to facilitate access to laboratories and libraries. The effectiveness of these measures is found by the data for attendance at libraries and centres for reading, from social surveys as well as from observations of the market.
Privacy protection and representation of children
238.For the development of the system of report between the media and children there has followed predominantly a guidance for co-regulation aimed at introducing mechanisms to give a sense of responsibility to communication operators and surveillance of the institutions oriented towards the effective protection of children. Thus, the application of specific codes of self-regulation and conduct have been applied and the establishment and co-determination of the appropriate committees for their application and guarantee.
239.Under these actions, in addition to the Treviso Charter for the sector of Press and Information broadcasting, updated in 2006 (for which paragraph 4.6 makes reference), there is also the TV and Children Code of Self-regulation (2002) and the corresponding TV and Children Committee (2003) and the Internet and Children Code of Self-regulation with the relevant guarantor committee for the Internet and Children (2003).
240.At the beginning of 2000, 13 self-regulatory codes existed in Italy, which were considered insufficient by the Ministry for Communications. Noting the situation, in 2007, the Government has been directed towards the drafting of a single “media and minors” code, the draft of which was drawn up by the Ministry for Communications with the support of the sector and of the bodies and associations concerned with the improvement of the childhood and adolescent condition. In the same direction, the Presidential Decree No. 72 of 14 May 2007 has reorganized bodies operating at the Ministry of Communications and transformed the TV and Children Committee into “the Committee for the application of the Media and Children Code of Self-regulation”.
241.The protection of children with regards to the negative impact of the media sees among its primary objectives the absolute guarantee of anonymity in relating the facts in which the children are involved in any way. A similar need for protection is recognised for children and adolescents present in TV shows or advertising, against all forms of exploitation or involvement not suited to their age. In the overt interest of the media or inappropriate involvement of children, which has become a “means” of communication for capturing the attention of the public and arousing emotions, a real abuse has been identified.
242.Of particular interest appears the laboratory on child and adolescent communication, active since 2004, established by the Veneto Region, which proposed itself as a “place” of communication, knowledge and exchange between the various actors involved in the relationship between the media and children (public institutions, schools, the service operators, journalists etc.). The laboratory operates through a committee made up of the Veneto region’s Public Tutor for minors and Corecom (Regional Committee of control for telecommunications), with the scientific support of the Interdepartmental Centre for research and services on the rights of the person and population and the Department of Sociology at the University of Padua. The laboratory engages in research activities and monitoring, through the Site “informaminori”, helping information operators to avoid using predictable formulas in relating events involving children.
H.The right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Committee recommendation No. 32 on the crime of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment into criminal law, on setting up child-sensitive mechanisms for receiving complaints against law enforcement officials regarding ill-treatment as well as systematic training for police and carabinieri forces, as well as professionals at detention centres
243.The Committee expresses particular attention with regard to possible cases of ill-treatment on minors by public officials, and particularly abuses on foreign and Roma children. Indeed, in line with its previous recommendations, the Committee has called on Italy to incorporate the crime of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, into criminal law; to establish children oriented mechanisms, in order to receive complaints against public officials regarding such treatments during the arrest, interrogation, judicial custody and within prisons, and to provide systematic training on children’s right to the staff working in detention centres and law enforcement personnel. In this connection, concerning the request to introduce children oriented mechanisms, in order to receive complaints against public officials for abuse during arrest, interrogation, judicial custody and within prisons, as of today every child detained can ask to speak to the juvenile supervisory judge to report any fact of which may have been a victim, and that cases of ill-treatment or abuse of children by government officials are rare and repressed under the Criminal Code. A factual response to the recommendations is the ongoing reform of the juvenile prison, taking place in the framework of a trend of strengthening those aspects of the Juvenile Justice System that safeguards the child even with regard to the bodies in charge of children care, also through the systematic training on the human rights of minors of civilian personnel and the Penitentiary Police operating in the Juvenile Justice Services, as well as the Police and the Carabinieri. Such training, furthermore, has already been activated, although not in a systematic way, for the Police and the Carabinieri, while juvenile penitentiary staff attends special training and refresher courses organized by the Department of Juvenile Justice at the Ministry of Justice, which take place in the three schools of staff training operating in Italy. In fact, due to the central focus that the Juvenile Justice system addresses to the specific needs of minors, with a priority to ensure their better and more appropriate living conditions, and to intensify the re-socializing, rehabilitation and reparative aim of the sentence, the Department of Juvenile Justice has prepared a draft bill which, if approved, would further diversify and customize the responses of the justice system in relation to the type of crime and the characteristics of the minor, thus increasing the chances of a quick exit from the criminal circuit and strengthening the process of re-socialization.
VI.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5, 9–11, 18, paras. 1 and 2; 19–21, 25, 27, para. 4; and 39)
244.The concept of parental support has a variety of meanings. It may be financial support and services due to the families, as it may refer to all those support measures, also of an educational nature, designed to facilitate the proper exercise of the parental role.
245.In the period examined the policies of the various governments that have taken power have all made new economic resources available to poor families, using the instrument both of tax benefits as well as monetary transfers.
246.The most significant intervention was introduced with the 2007 Budget Law, in the framework of a broader intervention on the taxation of persons’ income (IRPEF), which has allotted resources estimated at three billion euro per year in favour of families with children with medium low income. Family income support has been remodelled in relation to the tax rate, as well as by transforming the tax deductions for family dependants. The deductions for children are structured according to age (above or below three years of age) and number, and decrease with the increase of the total income of the taxpayer. For example, in the case of a taxpayer with two children the tax deduction is equal to €1,600 for minimum incomes, decreasing linearly compared to the total income of the individual taxpayer, cancelling out at around €111,000.
247.On the expenditure side, it must be pointed out a major intervention with regards to family benefits for employees and para-subordinate workers; these benefits also decrease in relation to family income. The reform, in addition to raising the measure of benefits, has reformed the mechanism of calculation for these people, by adopting a criterion which eliminates irrational reductions in child allowances that previously could occur also for small increases in family income (the so-called poverty trap).
248.The child allowance, combined with the deduction, reached for lower incomes (€14,000) the annual €2,400 for children younger than three and €2,300 for those between 3 and 18 years. The tax deduction also affected the self-employed, who have received on average €100 for each child. Intervention has represented the first piece of a wider reform of support for family income, whose benefits were intended to be gradually increased and extended. A particularly significant reform would be to make family allowances universal, currently reserved for the single category of employees and para- subordinate workers.
249.With the 2008 Budget Law a tax deduction of €1,200 was introduced in favour of all numerous families, with at least four children. This is a structural intervention that has already come into effect since 2007 and is added to the other tax benefits related to the size of the family. While it is an intervention restricted to a subset of very limited families, the deduction can be applied to, in the form of reimbursement, even by taxpayers whose income is too low to file a tax declaration and who thus may not benefit fully from the deductions allocated to taxable earnings. The extension of this principle would be an important progress in the redistributive capacity of interventions in support of families, made through the instrument of personal taxes on income (the so-called principle of negative tax).
250.The same 2008 Budget Law also lays down the increase in support for families with at least one invalid and the families in which a parent is deceased; 30 million euro has been earmarked for this, reaching an increase in the amount of not less than 10 per cent.
251.As regards in particular numerous families, the 2007 Budget Law establishes that the Fund for Family Policies can be used, moreover, for the testing of initiatives for reducing the costs of services for families with a number of children equal to or more than four. In order to implement this, special agreements were concluded with the Regions, as a result of which State financing was provided. The agreements provide for experimental initiatives for reducing costs incurred by families with four or more children, including children in adoption, addressed to the services providing electricity, gas, water and refuse collection, as well as initiatives for the containment of costs incurred by the families themselves for the enjoyment or access to other goods or services in the local area. Finally, the Ministerial Decree of 28 December 2007, which has provided a new system of social protection which will ensure a saving of 20 per cent on electricity bills for domestic customers in economically disadvantaged circumstances. The value of the “bonus” will be differentiated according to the size of the family unit.
252.Concern for the low birth rate, due in part to inadequate income, particularly that of younger couples, has motivated the introduction of the one-off measure “birth grant”, made active in 2003 for every second child or over (Law 326/2003) and financed again for those born in 2005 (extended to all births) with Law 266/2005 (2006 Budget Law).
The policies for the reconciliation of work and family life
253.The policies for reconciling work and family life provide tools that, making the work sphere compatible with the family, allow each individual to live in the best way the multiple roles that he/she plays within a complex society.
254.In this context article 9 of Law 8 March 2000, n. 53, as implemented by Legislative Decree 26 March 2001, n. 151, Consolidated Text on the Legal Provisions on the Protection and Support of Motherhood and Fatherhood in Pursuance of article 15 of Law No. 53 of 8 March 2000, envisages the allocation of contributions, of which at least 50 per cent for enterprises with up to 50 employees. This is in favour of those companies which try to initiate positive action for flexibility, and the self employed or company owners who wish to develop projects to reconcile family life and work. The aim of this instrument is to facilitate the reconciliation of time for family life and work through the financing of projects which introduce new forms of organization and management of work time or services able to qualify the company as family friendly.
255.In recent years projects for positive action have been promoted for the testing of forms of flexible working time, part-time, teleworking, replacement, training and assistance for a return to work after periods for family-related care needs. Applying article 9 of Law 53/2000, figures are given relating to projects submitted and funded in 2007.
Total projects presented
Total projects approved
% A pprovation
€6 846 708.44
€3 052 326.69
€6 290 216.39
€1 597 024.38
€8 258 822.81
€4 055 166.20
€21 395 747.64
€8 704 517.27
Source: Prime Minister’s Office – Department for Family Policies.
The social and educational services for early childhood
256.The development of socio-educational services for early childhood, or for nurseries and integrated services, is a Government priority, creating an essential component of the development and implementation of policies aimed at reconciling family and professional life and encouraging the participation of women in the labour market.
257.Through the 2007 Budget Law an extraordinary plan of intervention for the development of the territorial system of socio-educational services for early childhood was launched, with the dual objective of reaching within 2010 the objective of 33 per cent territorial coverage, fixed by the European Council in Lisbon in 2000. Also part of this was the plan to lessen the imbalances between the different areas of the country. The National Plan is part of a context that is differentiated by coverage for the supply of services for infants. The national territory is divided into three areas, North, Central, Southern and islands, the Service covers 15, 7 per cent for regions in the North, 15, 5 per cent for the four regions in the Centre and 4, 4 per cent for the eight regions in the South, including the islands.
258.The plan is developed over a three-year period 2007–2009, and shall be implemented by the regions and autonomous provinces in response to a separate agreement, of 26 September 2007, between the Government, the regions and the autonomous areas in which essential levels are established together with the criteria and modalities of implementation. This agreement is aimed at creating an “integrated, extended, qualified and differentiated” network throughout the territory of nurseries, ancillary services and innovative services in work places, to promote the welfare and the development of children, the support of the educational role of parents and the reconciliation of working time and care.
259.For the triennium 2007–2009, 604 million euro have been initially allocated, of which 340 from the State and 264 from the Regions and local bodies, the latter contributing to the Plan for not less than 30 per cent of the resources allocated by the State. With the 2007 Budget Law a project has therefore been launched to extend services for children and for the family which has no precedent in Italy: 340 million, of which 250 million distributed among all the Regions (Lisbon objective), and 90 million exclusively allocated to the 11 Regions with a covering rate lower than the national average (objective regional adjustment). These are all the Regions of the South, in addition to Veneto, Friuli and Latium.
The extraordinary plan of intervention for the development over the territorial system of social and educational services for infants and the national strategic framework 2007–2013
260.It is important to highlight that in the implementation of the plan a synergy has been realized with the strategy of NSF 2007–2013, which develops and describes the unified regional policy, with a view to overcoming and removing the excesses of economic and social imbalances in the country.
261.The NSF 2007–2013 sets four objectives for the Regions of the South, with reference to a limited number of services deemed essential.
262.The NSF also establishes a reward mechanism to encourage the Regions of the South to achieve quantifiable objectives (targets) by 2013, equal for all. In particular, the objective of increasing health services for people has been identified, distinguishing the two specific objectives relating to the services of care for children and for the elderly population in the conviction that increased frequency and quality of performance contribute to lighten the weight on the family and encourage the participation of women in the labour market.
263.The resources allotted to help the overall achievement of the four objectives is €750 million, which will be allocated to those Regions of the South which by 2013 have reached the target set for the objective. A share of the premium will be assigned already in 2009 on the basis of improvement on the starting point for each Region.
264.The target set for services for children is subdivided into two indicators: the percentage of municipalities which have activated services for children, which in 2013 must reach 35 per cent, and the percentage of children aged 0–3, which have benefited from the services for infants (of which at least 70 per cent in nurseries), which in 2013 must reach 12 per cent for all the regions of the South.
265.Finally it should be recalled that, with reference to the objectives of the NSF service, as part of the Action Project for systems and technical assistance 2007–2013, 2 million euro have been allocated to the Department for Family Policies and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies in order to achieve the objectives of the increase of services for infants.
266.Another important item of news in the services sector for infants is constituted by the financing, for the school year 2007/08, of an experimental educational service, supplementary to nurseries (0–3 years) and preschool (3–5 years), addressed to children from 2 to 3 years old. The total budget for this initiative amounts to 35 million euro. On the basis of the projects submitted, 1,362 “Spring sections” have been financed, of which 517 in the North, 207 in the Centre, 442 in the South and 196 in the Islands.
267.It is important to point out that Government intervention has had a “catalytic” effect, for which many Regions have decided to provide their own resources to finance all the projects allowed. Furthermore, large public investment in the field also encourages private investment in service offers, the quality of which can always be guaranteed by strict procedures for accreditation, in the care of the local administrations.
Integration of State resources for the nursery plan and the 2008 Budget Law
268.With the Decree No. 159 of 1 October 2007, on urgent economic-financial measures for development and social equity, converted by Law 222/2007, the Government has allocated more than 25 million euro to increase the plan for extraordinary socio-educational services, to which there have been added a further 25 million euro from a remodelling of the Fund for the Family 2007. In addition, the 2008 Budget Law adds to the resources already allocated by the 2007 Budget Law, equal to 340 million for the three years, 66.4 million euro in the current year, of which 10 are for the financing of “Spring sections” for 2008.
269.Therefore, to date, the resources that were dedicated overall to the development of the sector of socio-educational services for infants have come to more than 747 million: 446.4 million of State resources to finance the extraordinary three-year plan, 281 million of regional resources for co-finance of the plan, and a further 20 million of State resources for the financing of the spring sections.
Resources allocated to services for early childhood
Financial Bill 2007
300 000 000
Family Fund 2007
40 000 000
Integrated Nursery Fund 2007
25 000 000
Integrated Family Fund 2007
25 000 000
Financial Bill 2008
56 462 000
Total State funds
446 462 000
Regions of the North Co-financing 2007
53 008 952
Regions of the North Co-financing 2008
16 598 350
Regions of the South Co-financing 2007
211 550 940
Total regional funds
281 158 242
Nursery plan total
727 620 242
Source: Prime Minister’s Office – Department for Family Policies.
Family upbringing and parental responsibilities
270.Family upbringing is directed at promoting a more mature culture of parenthood and as one of the contexts of support for parental experience.
271.Among the experiences already acquired in this context are to be remembered those promoted by family centres, childhood-adolescence-family centres as well as networks of family solidarity, the councils and local alliances for families, created in almost all the regions of Italy from the early financing provided for in the Law 285/1997 or on specific regional rules.
272.The Law 285/1997 has allowed the financing, among others, of projects designed to support parental responsibilities, in particular by the provision of a vital minimum in favour of children in need placed in families or entrusted to one of the parents (art. 4); activities of information and support for the choices of maternity and paternity, by facilitating access to assistance services for the family and to motherhood, and action to support the child and components of the family in order to achieve effective action for the prevention of crises and psychosocial risk; family mediation services and advice for families and children in order to overcome relational difficulties. With reference to the period 2001–2004, of a total of 2,818 projects submitted, more than 500 are reported as supporting parenthood.
273.In the context of the preparation of a new national action plan, as already noted, must be recalled the activity of the working group that has examined the issue of relations between the generations and the educational relationship.
274.Whereas regarding the legal responsibility of parents this report refers back to the previous one, it is important to consider here the relations between school and families. Law 59/1997 confers legal status to schools of every order with consequent financial, organizational, research and development autonomy. As can be seen by article 139, Decree n. 112 of 31 March 1998, recognition is given to the local authorities, of important functions relating to: the establishment and the abolition of educational institutes, the organization of the use of the school buildings, the management of the process of integration of disabled children, the organization of initiatives of adult education and health education. In this context the Educational Plan becomes an important element of school autonomy where each school must draw up in a consistent way “the general and educational objectives for the different types and topics of education” in such a way as to consider the “requirements of the cultural, social and economic context of the territory”. Autonomy gives to individual school units a specific identity and a relative decision-making capacity. The plan is drawn up by the College of teachers, which use general guidelines defined by the school district council or the institute, taking into account the information submitted by any parents associations and, in secondary schools, by students. It also appears significant that the headmaster is recognized as having the task of activating the “necessary contacts with the different institutional realities (cultural, social and economic) operating in the territory”. The school opens up therefore, more and more, to relationships with the families and the local community.
275.The fundamental role of the family is recognised as important in the Ministry of Education, University and Research documents, which prefigures a school as a “Community”. Recently, the prospect is echoed by the same Ministry, which in the Guidelines on curricula of preschools and primary schools, published in July 2007, notes quite plainly that “the school will pursue the objective of constantly building an educational alliance with the parents”.
Family guidance centres
276.Among the activities covered by the National Fund for family policies — introduced by the 2007 Budget Law — specific attention was given to the reorganization of family guidance centres, created by Law 405/1975, to foster development towards real centres for the family, taking into account the notable experience in recent years in Italy.
277.In this light, thanks also to specific agreements with the Regions, the multidisciplinary nature of the activities has been promoted with respect to the families, with regard to educational issues, legal, psychological and the promotion of health, through the performance of duties of continuing education and family mediation. The promotion of social support in favour of the parents in the stages preceding and subsequent to childbirth and within the paths of growth and training of the children, the promotion and dissemination of interventions of listening and support, also through the development of initiatives of solidarity and mutual help, as well as operative integration with other services, such as family centres.
278.The family guidance centres can do a lot to help young people to acquire knowledge to enable them to live the experience of a couple in an understanding way.
279.With reference to specific “young people’s spaces” in centres, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies carried out a review in all the Regions. The database, updated to December 2007, is published at www.ministerosalute.it.
280.The “young people’s spaces” carries out its activities through the teams of different professionals, in different times and places from those of adults, and in close liaison with the world of school.
281.Work in schools, carried out by personnel with appropriate and specific skills, is the way to bring attention to and accredit the service for young people. There are many situations in which are provided meetings and talks about health education and affectivity with the involvement of teachers and possibly of parents (so that they are able to ask questions and receive answers) and young people can be invited to the centres to talk about personal issues.
282.Some of the more frequently treated aspects of the age of adolescent concern the sexual sphere, conflict with parents and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
C.Separation from parents
283.On maintaining relations between parents and children, Law No. 54 of 8 February 2006 has recently intervened with Provisions on the Separation of Parents and Shared Custody of Children. The new Law implements a turning point in the culture of custody as a result of separation and divorce, reaffirming the principle according to which all children (legitimate and biological) have the right to preserve a continuing and balanced relationship with both parents, even in cases of disintegration of the family unit. The law establishes the duty for greater control on the education, health and leisure activities of the children, to be part of both parents, duty which inevitably translates into spending more time with their children, beyond the outcomes of married union. It is also affirmed at the same time the fundamental right of grandparents, and of close family, to have continuous contact with their grandchildren, a right not covered by the previous law which left it at the discretion of the parental custodian.
284.The law provides a regulatory framework which is strongly protective towards the weaker spouse, where he/she finds a full upholding of the principle of “biparenthood” as recognized by natural rights. Particular cases of separation of the child from their family are also due to their detention. The Italian legislation provides for a series of actions for the protection of parental relationships, particularly when the detention regards the mother. Amendments have been made in this sense to Law No.354/75 “prison system rules”, with the introduction of home detention for pregnant women and mothers (but also fathers) of children of less than 10 years of age (4 law 165/98).
285.The Italian Law No. 40/2001 extends the application of the law (special home detention) also to subjects with sentences of over 4 years, in addition to the possibility of release from prison, during the day, to take care of their children. When these rules are not applicable, the children of the detainees may remain with the mother until reaching three years of age as the relationship with the mother in the first years of life is considered crucial to a balanced growth.
286.For greater understanding of the phenomenon, the statistical appendix contains data drawn up from 1993 to 2007 – the situation as to 30 June 2008 for the Regions of detention.
287.It must be also noted that the Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with local authorities and the third sector, poses agreements and measures to ensure the equality of treatment for women held and/or subject to measures of the judicial authority, specifically with respect to efforts to ensure that children up until three years of age with mothers in detention (contained in the cited law No. 354/75) may have access to prisons, access to social and educational services in general (in particular to nurseries), ensuring transport services also through the use of organizations from the third sector.
288.All the legislation in force provides, moreover, the possibility for the mother detainee to take advantage of a series of benefits for a quick release from prison facilities. In relation to what has been expressed and in consideration of the commitments expressed during the Conference State–Regions, the Ministry of Justice is strongly committed to urging the Regions and local administrations to ensure access to socio-health and socio-educational services for mother detainees also through the realization of structures of a family character to allow for this type of use.
289.Finally, the Law implementing the penitentiary order (Presidential Decree 230/2000) provides that particular attention be paid to the relationship with the family. For this reason it is possible to increase the number of the monthly planned talks and allow them to take place, if there are particular needs, in specific locations.
290.During the period of reference for the report (2000–2007), the most important innovations in the field of immigration and family reunification are essentially two.
291.The first, in chronological order, regards the provisions in the field of immigration introduced by Law 189/2002 (known as the Bossi-Fini law). In synthesis, with the introduction of Law 189/2002 reunification was only possible in the following cases:
(a)Spouse (not legally separated);
(c)Children who have come of age who are dependent due to total invalidity and who thus cannot support themselves;
(d)Parents who do not have other children in the country of origin or provenance;
(e)Parents over 65 with other children who are unable to provide for them due to documented serious health grounds.
292.The second concerns the implementation through the Legislative Decree No. 5 of 8 January 2007 of the European Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification, which amends the requirements for the request for family reunification. The main amendments made by decree concern the decision ordering expulsion, keeping in mind the nature and reality of family ties of the applicants and predisposing to enlargement of the possibilities of reunification. Article 29 of the decree under examination, dedicated exclusively to family reunification, provides that the foreigner may request family reunion for the following family members:
(b)Children, also of the spouse or born out of wedlock, not married on the condition that the other parent, whoever, has given his/her consent;
(c)Children of age, who cannot provide for their essential needs by reason of their health;
(d)Parents who do not have adequate family support in the country of origin or provenance.
293.As regards the requirements of the parent to exercise the right to family reunification, it is expected that, in the case of a child who is under 14 years of age of one of the parents, the consent of the house holder in which the child will actually live is sufficient, for the reunification of two or more children under 14 years of age, in any case, a minimum income not less than twice the annual amount of social support is required.
294.Furthermore, the foreign citizen who requires reunification must demonstrate the availability:
(a)Of a lodging within the minimum parameters provided for by regional law for public residential accommodation, or in the case of a child under 14 years of age accompanied by one of the parents, the consent of the house holder in which the child will actually come to dwell;
(b)An annual income resulting from legitimate sources not less than the annual social support amount (€5,061.68) if the reunification of a single family member is requested, to double the annual amount if the reunification of two or three family members is requested, to three times the annual amount if the reunification of four or more family members is requested. For the purpose of determining income one also takes into account the annual earnings of co-habiting and dependent family members living in the country.
E.Maintenance costs for the child
295.Law 54/2006, containing Provisions on the Separation of Parents and Shared Custody of Children, provides, with reference to costs for the maintenance of children, how both parents are obliged to maintain the children in proportion to the respective income. The Court shall establish, if necessary, the payment of a periodic benefit in order to implement the principle of proportionality of costs, an amount that will have to take into account the needs of the child, the standard of living enjoyed before the separation, the time spent with each parent, the economic resources of both and the economic cost of domestic duties and of care that have been undertaken by each parent. The maintenance cheque will continue to be automatically adjusted to the ISTAT indices. The court may also require the periodic payment of a cheque in favour of children who are of age but not yet economically independent to which, if severely disabled, shall apply the provisions in favour of the child. In case of defaults and violation of the maintenance obligation, the court may intervene in order to settle disputes, adopting appropriate measures. In the case of serious acts that cause detriment to the child, the court may intervene on the agreements, warning the defaulting parent, requiring compensation for damages in respect of the child, from one parent or another. Finally, it may order the defaulting parent to pay a penalty that ranges from a minimum of €75 to a maximum of €5,000.
F.Children deprived of a family environment
Committee recommendation No. 34 on the implementation of Law 184/83, the improvement of social assistance and support to families, the development of alternative forms to institutionalization, regular inspections of institutions by independent bodies, the establishment of effective mechanisms for receiving and addressing complaints from children in care, monitoring standards of care and periodically reviewing of placement.
The regulatory framework of reference
296.With reference to the measures for prevention and family support (e.g. parental education, the creation of centres and the use of Community programmes), see information given in para. 5.1.
297.As regards the preparation of alternative measures to institutionalization, the Italian situation has been characterised, on one side, by profound changes in the institutional conditions, organizational and technical-professional for listening, caring and protecting the person and his/her socio-family context, whilst on the other side, by the recognition of a system of shared responsibility that involves all the public together with associations and organizations of the private individual and citizens. This is a process based on the concepts of integration, subsidiarity and empowerment, oriented overall to the promotion of positive opportunities, to the removal of inequalities and the search for full and effective realization of the rights of the child.
298.This course of reorganization began with the adoption of the Law No. 149 of 28 March 2001, “Amendments to Law No. 184 of 4 May 1983 Concerning “Rules Governing Child Adoption and Fostering”, and to Title VIII of Book 1 of the Italian Civil Code”,with which the 31 December 2006 was fixed as the closure date for the shelter institutes for children and adolescents (art. 4). This has made significant and substantial additions — as already mentioned in the debate in the previous report — to Law 184/1983 created to regulate the placement and adoption of children. In this sense due attention was given to the problem, legislating for regulating the matter, with the aim of protecting the psychological well-being of the child, considered ultimately and expressly as deserving protection. The end result is to ensure the right of the child to a family, that of origin or a replacement one (foster or adoptive), should the biological parents not be in a position to take charge of his/her psychological well-being and harmonious upbringing.
299.Law 149/2001 affirms (art. 1, para. 1) the right of the child to be raised and educated in its family and stresses explicitly (art. 1, para. 2) that the poverty of the parents cannot constitute an obstacle to the right of the child to live with their family, by providing support and aid to the said nucleus. Furthermore, in line with the recommendations of the Committee, it foresees that recourse to alternatives is necessary only when one finds oneself, even if only temporarily, “without a suitable family environment, despite the support and help available” (art. 2, para. 1), giving priority to the custody of a family, preferably with children, or to a single person, able to afford maintenance, instruction, education and the affective relationships which he/she needs (art. 2, para. 1). In the case in which this is not possible, it agrees to the placement of the child in a family community or, failing that, in an institute of assistance with headquarters, preferably, in the place as close to that in which the family nucleus of origin is (art. 2, para. 2). This solution is available only in the case in which the child is older than 6 years, while, for those who are younger than six years, the law — in line with international provisions — provides only for the placement in the family community, except in emergency cases (art. 2, para. 3).
300.The national regulatory approach is in full harmony with the provisions established by the UN Convention, given that a central position is recognized to the role of the family for the child and to the importance of adopting all the measures necessary to ensure that this, even in difficult situations, can effectively bring about its function. Moreover, there are the subsidiary organizations of assistance, through the provision of the appeal for placement in institutions only as a final resort, that is as a possible solution only as a result of negative results from the assistance of the family support unit and the impossibility of placement, placement in family homes and other support systems of a family nature.
301.Law 149/2001 represents a regulatory reform and a consistent social development, which seeks to promote placement with families, family type communities, and the promotion of foster care as a viable alternative to an institute, but not as the only way. In this respect the same article. 4 of the law provides for replacing the admission to an institute by placement in a family within 31 December 2006 and, where this is not possible, through the placement in a family-type community characterized by organization and interpersonal relationships similar to those of a family. Here there is also a major piece of conjunction between the international provisions and the Italian legislative approach in recalling the possibility of resorting to a variety of services offered, but with a characteristic basic essential: the connotation of the family dimension.
The implementation process
302.With the objective of the implementation of the principles contained in Law 149/2001, as already highlighted, in 2003 within the observatory for childhood and adolescence a permanent monitoring group was formed to start, in agreement with the regions, in view of their local peculiarities, programmes and alternative support activities. Hence the specific “Plan of Action” to make possible the closure of institutes for children by 2006. The plan had identified a multiplicity of alternative support instruments among which the promotion of family care, daytime or residential, and the so-called mild adoption, the enlargement of the family-type community and the development of innovative experiences of hospitality.
303.The use of these instruments has diversified geographically: in some geographical areas there was a wider use of extra-family foster care while in others a greater use of residential facilities or adoption for children was highlighted.
304.The path of closure of the institutes, as provided for by Law 149/01, has been formally almost completed. The constant monitoring of children outside the family, which has made it possible to check the level of achievement of the objectives laid down with regards to the protection of the right of children to a family and progress in the process of deinstitutionalization, was exercised by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre.
The national situation: quantitative elements
305.It is necessary to specify that the data and information collected comes from the monitoring that the various local bodies have put in place in the last few years and that there are no common data collection criteria among the various Regions, as would be desirable. However, if the quality of information provided is very diverse according to the region, the research of the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre has the merit of having provided uniform and comparable data for the whole national territory and to have given to some Regions a valid instrument for its detection since. In fact, if in many cases the data were extracted from existing information systems, in others the instrument of detection proposed for the research has been adopted within the territory, with appropriate modifications.
306.Until 31 December 2005 – more than five years after the first research of the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, made on 30 June 1999, the number of placements into families rose to 12,551, with an increase of little more than 30 per cent in the period under consideration. In fact, the number of placements into families as of 31 December 2005 for Sicily is underestimated due to missing statistics, in so much as they were not supplied, which would lead, taking account of the survey of 1999, to the number of placements in progress being above 13 thousand.
307.Comparing the 12,551 placements into families established for the resident population of reference, one gets an average of about 12.6 children in placement every 10,000 resident children, the incidence varying considerably from Region to Region. Higher values of a national average value occur in the regions of the North and Centre: Liguria (31), Tuscany (27), Aosta Valley (24), Piedmont (21) and Emilia-Romagna (20); values significantly below the average national are found in Basilicata (less than one child in foster care for every 10,000 resident children, which only includes judicial custody), and in Sardinia (3) (with reference to 2002), Campania (6), Calabria and Abruzzo (9).
308.The difference between the areas of the Centre-North and South is even more pronounced if we consider the territorial subdivisions: the North-West has the highest value of the ratio between placements and the resident juvenile population (20 children in foster care for every 10,000 resident children), followed by the Centre (18), certainly influenced by a very high value for Tuscany, the North-East (14) and finally the South (10). The figure for the islands is significantly poor, referring only to Sardinia with regard to 2002.
309.As for the number of foreign children in family foster care it should be emphasized that it was not possible to define it exactly as the data has been collected for only 11 Regions. In the Regions that have responded, the foreign component is approximately 22 per cent of children in foster care: so it is very important considering that in 1999, for the same regions that gave data in 2005, the percentage was just 6.6 per cent.
310.In 1999 family foster care was in equal measure for children under 11 years old (51.4 per cent) and children older than 11 (48.6 per cent). In the course of 2005, the trend of change has led to the prevalence of children placed who are above 12 years old, 52 per cent of the total.
311.Elements of relative stability in the phenomenon over time concern on the one hand the division between consensual and judicial placements with a prevalence for the latter which is still, on average, 70 per cent of all placements, and on the other hand the division between intrafamily and extra-family foster care, with the perfect balance of around 50 per cent for each of the two ways. With respect to the permanence of children and adolescents in family foster care it must be noted that according to the records of 2005, albeit the information is available for only half of the cases counted, 60 per cent of the placements last for over two years.
312.As of 31 December 2005 residential services in charge of children care in Italy were 2,226, with a total presence of 11,543 children. Also in this case, the specific data on children must be considered underestimated because it does not take into account children taken into care by the Sicilian services (as it is not reported by the Region), extremely important if one considers that Sicily alone counts, as of 2005, 216 residential services in charge of children care, equal to approximately 10 per cent of the national total. Comparing the 11,543 children Italian residential services placed to the resident population of reference, one obtains an average of about 11.6 children placed for every 10,000 resident children, an incidence which varies considerably from Region to Region. The highest figures are those of the autonomous province of Trento (36), Liguria (22), Piedmont (18) and Umbria (17).
313.Also among the children who were admitted to the services, as well as for family foster care, there prevail rather significantly those aged between 12 and 17 years, which represent 58 per cent of the total of children who were admitted to the residential services.
314.By adding up the data on family foster care (to families or relatives) and those on children admitted to residential communities as of 31 December 2005, it results that, at that date, 24,094 children in Italy were living outside their families of origin. This amount, as mentioned above, must be revised upwards, considering the lack of Sicilian data and the incomplete information declared by some Regions with regard to the data proposed. Nevertheless, comparing this value to the reference population, we have on average 24 children for every 10,000 resident children living outside the family in Italy. The regions with the highest values are Liguria (54), the Province of Trento (47) and Tuscany (42), followed by Piedmont and Aosta Valley. Conversely, three Regions of the South are distinguished for particularly low values, below the average national value: Campania (17 children who live outside of their own family of origin for every 10,000 resident children), Basilicata (11) and Sardinia (8).
315.To complement and integrate this statistical data collected in collaboration with the Regions and Autonomous Provinces, regarding children inserted into families and residential services, the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre has undertaken a further and specific monitoring and analysis concerning the process of the closure of institutes for children provided by Law 149/2001. In particular, it has collected and analysed the data of the institutes for children who were active as of 30 June 2003, of those that were closed and those that were transformed into another type of residential service.
316.As of 31 January 2008 14 institutions were active, of which 9 in Sicily alone with a total of 48 children received (against the 215 institutes resulting active up to 30 June 2003 with 2,663 children). As this data is extremely positive, there remains the problem of verifying the closure of these institutes to avert a simply formal conversion of the same into smaller structures and not a transformation in an organizational, relational and methodological way.
New forms of foster care
317.Assistance to multiproblematic families must be ensured within the boundary of the local community, in the human and sociocultural environment from which the person comes. At the local level there is a multifaceted situation, characterized by various interventions, as follows: (1) in some areas it is worth noting the novelty of the pattern to be implemented; (2) in other areas it is worth noting the impact of the above interventions on the territory itself; (3) in few others it is worth noting the introduction of high normative and regulatory standards besides the relating implementation by the relevant institutions. In the greater part of community-based experiences, it seems however to be as the primary objective the search for institutional agreements, for cooperation and coordination among the different parties involved, geared to the synergies of action that may result more efficient. Over time the importance of the family resource has increased, both the family of origin of the child and the adoptive one. In this sense there is an increase in the use of the networks of mutual aid between families, especially with a view to an adequate support to parenthood, used both in respect to preventing distance from the family unit, as well as, at a later stage, promoting reintegration. In parallel, the role of local services responsible for child placement has extended to processes concerning the selection, training and assigning of foster families and the development and monitoring of placement projects. In recent years users have changed a lot, from the demographic, economic and cultural point of view, and the always new problems have required integration and cooperation between the various services to give life to network projects. To these ends new forms of intervention have developed, such as the so-called “homocultural foster care”, sine die foster care and open adoption.
318.The so-called “homocultural foster care” allows foreign families which have experienced a positive path of integration in our country to offer themselves as a precious resource for families of the same culture which are going through, for various reasons, a period of difficulty. These families know in part the expectations and life of a migrant, the impact of migration on the balance of a couple and the questions relating to family reunification of the children and their integration; but they also know the Italian culture well and have been able to build for themselves and their children a way of life which preserves their roots and which together enhances the present. For this reason, they might be better than others in giving support and in providing a resource that facilitates the integration of a foreign child and his/her family. “Homocultural foster care” concerns families of fellow citizens of the foreign child where the judicial or administrative authorities or the parents directly rely on another family from their State, relatives or not, who come or find themselves in Italy with the child. This type of placement is often made for the purpose of migration, so that the child can build and realize its future in Italy, while in some minority cases it occurs for temporary reasons of care or study. The child is therefore placed “in a family far from its own, de facto or legally, exercising on him at different levels and different ways parental powers”.
319.If until some time ago one had recourse to this type of integration only in the case where the child was already placed with a host family, today we are witnessing a greater dissemination of “homocultural foster care”. Many obstacles have been overcome or can be overcome: a large part of foreign nationals present in Italy have legally settled and the idea has been accepted that from the foreign families one must not demand the same minimum economic and housing level as the Italian foster families. The task of approaching and involving willing families may usefully be done by cultural mediators, so as to simplify the work of the services operators.
320.In addition to reducing the costs for the placement, with “homocultural foster care” discomfort and abnormality appear to decrease slowly but considerably. Furthermore, in social and cultural terms, this type of placement offers interesting opportunities for exchange and enrichment for society and the start of a concrete collaboration between two countries.
321.With sine die foster care, one means placement projects whose duration is not necessarily defined by the placement order, in which the return to the family is not provided for, or in which the project changes over time until the return of the child to the family is no longer permitted. This type of placement has the following characteristics:
(a)Useful: when the non-adoptability of the child has been assessed. In fact it allows the child to not lose track of his/her family origin, enabling him/her to know the merits and drawbacks, using the best of what he/she may be given; it allows him/her to maintain an acceptable relationship with at least one of the two parents; it is also an alternative to institutionalization;
(b)A real and declared need: when the family of origin will never be able to take on all the parental responsibilities or only in a limited way, so a “co-existence” with the child cannot be considered. Therefore there is a positive assessment that, in his/her interest, that the child maintain a link and regular contact with the family of origin; it shows that it is impossible to cut the link with the family of origin; there is a diagnosed need to recognize oneself as the child of present biological parents;
(c)An inevitable fact: when it is not possible to proceed with the adoption; continuing postponements occur in the decision concerning adoptability; the family of origin is highly compromised; services are inadequate for therapeutic processes. In such situations placement sine die allow for an alternative to institutionalization; compensating for failed adoptions; limiting family and institutional shortcomings.
322.A programme and accurate monitoring, which assesses the resources and needs of all the protagonists in the placement, as well as a constant updating to the competent authorities, constitute a prerequisite so that those authorities take into account a placement project for an indefinite period. Furthermore, it is essential that sine die foster care is made explicit by the operators to the family of origin, with the child, and with the foster family. The operations of the service must be carefully reviewed so that the sine die foster care corresponds to a real need, in the interests of the child, and not as the consequence of little attention or difficulty in supporting the family of origin or due to the uncertainty or indecision of the operators.
323.Finally, a tested innovative method in recent years is open adoption, which favours on one side the upkeep of ties with the family of origin and on the other the creation of new bonds of support for the child and the family of origin, thus responding to the fundamental principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, first of all being that of the best interest of the child.
324.In the context of this recognition of the central right of the child to family, one notes, in addition to the conditions of children in total abandonment, ‘grey’ areas of progressive abandonment or semi-abandonment (often the parents are educationally unable, although providing the child with an emotional bond). Also for these children one should affirm the right to family with the opening, when necessary, to new forms of access to hospitality.
325.To give a response to their particular situation a part of Juvenile Judges has supported the use of adoption models, less practiced before, such as legitimized open adoptions when for the child it is good to maintain personal relations with the family of origin (often with grandparents or aunts and uncles), the use of adoption in special cases to give stability to family foster care for an indefinite period without breaking the ties with the family of origin, the gentle passage of the child from foster parents to adoptive parents with continual relations between the two families.
Regional and national campaigns on foster care
326.In the implementation of the move towards closing institutes for children provided for by Law 149/2001, on national territory a strong need is felt to realize public information and awareness campaigns, to promote family care in the context of community development.
327.Alongside the promotion of a culture of family foster care and childcare, through the involvement of operators and citizens, the experimentation of shared good practices between local and regional realities for the creation of effective policies for the promotion of children’s rights aims to develop initiatives directed at childhood and adolescence. All this according to Law 149/2001, which is specific for protection in difficult and high-risk situations, such as abuse or sexual exploitation, abandonment, ill treatment and violence against children.
328.Other initiatives have been realized such as the production of videos, ads, brochures, posters and the organization of readings to contribute to knowledge, awareness and information about foster care carried out on a national level and have been gathered together on a CD-ROM and distributed at the national conference “Foster care: building bonds. Reality, experiences and future scenarios”, held in Turin on 21–22 February 2008.
The institute of the kafala
329.The kafala and adoption are respectively, in countries with Islamic culture and in those with European culture, the main instruments of social policy aimed at the protection of children who are found in the broadest sense in a state of abandonment. The two institutes have, however, substantial differences: the adoption allows the child without a family context to be placed in a new adoptive family in the same position as a biological child; the kafala, whilst representing “a commitment to take responsibility for the protection, education and maintenance of an abandoned child in the same way in which a parent would for their child”, does not contain any legal constraint of filiation nor succession rights for the child adopted by kafala in respect of his/her kafil.
330.This institution, although not therefore configurable in terms of legal adoption – of adoption that gives the child the legal status of a legitimate child – guarantees however the child all the subjective rights connected to this status (maintenance, instruction and education), except for the right to filiation, such as the acquisition of the surname and succession. In other words, unlike the European and American concept of adoption, the kafala does not automatically bond the living of the person subject to kafala with those that offer it. It is a bond of protection or guardianship, which translates into a financial, moral and physical protection, or in more types of protection together.
331.The Moroccan Law, as one of many other countries in which Islamic inspired laws are in force (Tunisia excluded), has chosen this concept stressing in the kafala the aspect of commercial transaction: the law restricts the scope of the involvement towards physical needs (food, clothing, health care) and moral and emotional needs (education and love), but refuses to extend it to name and lineage.
332.At an international level there are two explicit acknowledgements of this Institute: that of article 20 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and that of the 1996 Hague Convention on the protection of children, a document which covers in its context the placement of the child in a foster family or an institute, or his/her placement with kafala or with a similar institute.
333.These recognitions on the part of international instruments operating in the field have been reflected in Italian case-law to the point of dividing it into two fronts. On one side, one maintains that since there is international recognition of the social, cultural and legal dignity of the kafala, this cannot in itself be deemed contrary to the public international system, taken as a collection of rules protecting the national legal system from foreign regulations which violate its fundamental principles. On the opposite side, authoritative provisions are not lacking in this respect which reaffirm the opposition of the kafala Institute to Italian legal principles.
334.However, among these previsions we would like to stress that the Court of Civil Cassation, on 4 November 2005, No. 21395 declared that the kafala “cannot be assimilated either to adoption, or to placement in view of adoption, but as a placement aimed at protecting the child, clearly outside the types of “adoptive” proceedings provided for by the Italian system”.
335.Therefore, despite the absence of a pacifying case-law on the point, it should be stated that one mainly finds oneself dealing with the question of kafala in those cases in which one speaks of “transient legal relations of a paraparental type” in which, for example, placement by means of kafala should be seen mainly as “homocultural foster care” where a public judicial or the administrative authority of the State of origin entrusts a child to a family with kafala provisions.
336.For the moment, the Italian regulations, always commented on by national case-law, are open to two scenarios of procedure:
The measure of the kafala provides for placement in view of adoption. If in that circumstance the adopters, one of these or the adoptee, are foreign nationals resident in Italy, article 40 of the Law No. 218 of 31 May 1995 for the reform of the Italian system of private international law provides for the intervention of Italian jurisdiction for possible completion of the adoption.
The measure of the kafala does not provide for placement in view of adoption: being provisions of voluntary jurisdiction for the protection of the child in a state of abandonment, these must be recognised automatically in Italy by the bodies of public administration.
337.For information concerning actions preventing family troubles and the removal of the child from the family of origin, see the paragraph in this section dedicated to interventions in support of parenthood.
338.As far as regular inspections of institutions by independent bodies and the establishment of effective mechanisms for receiving and addressing complaints from children in care, monitor standards of care and, in the light of article 25 of the Convention, establish regular periodic review of placement, firstly, according to article 9 of Law 149/2001, the public prosecutor at the Juvenile Court, who transmits records to the same court with informative reports, every six months carries out or has made inspections in institutes of public or private assistance. He/she may carry out extraordinary inspections at any time.
339.As noted, under article 104 of the Constitution, the judiciary constitutes an autonomous and independent order distinct from any other power. This ensures perfect adherence to the recommendation of the Committee. Law 328/2000 established two specific aspects concerning the point in question, where — article 6, paragraph 2, subparagraph c — it gives Municipalities the task to supervise social services and residential structures and — article 11 — it instituted the authorization to the functioning and accreditation as the instruments to regulate and control the structures of hospitality. Finally, Law 328/200 reserved to the State — article 9 — the function concerning the fixing of the minimum structural and organizational requirements for the authorization of residential services and facilities.
340.The first of the two instruments — authorization to operation — is the basic prerequisite for opening the service, while the second — accreditation — is the additional quality requirement needed for the residential service to receive public funding and conclude agreements with public bodies.
341.In implementation of the said article 11 of Law 328/2000, the Ministerial Decree n. 308 of 21 May 2001 has specified the minimum structural and organizational requirements that the structures must possess for the purposes of issuing authorization for the operation by the Municipalities, while providing that the Regions adopt their own specific provisions to regulate the matter, with respect to the functions attributed in the wake of the reform of Title V of the Constitution.
342.As regards in particular shelters for children outside the family of origin, Law 149/2001 has laid out — article 2, paragraph 2 — the phasing out of the placement in institutes by 31 December 2006, by recourse to placement in a family and, where this is not possible, through the insertion of a child in a family-type community, characterized by organization and interpersonal relationships similar to those of a family. Law 149/2001 determines with precision — article 4, paragraph 3 — the modalities and times of vigilance and monitoring on the condition of children outside the family context: the local social services which are assigned the responsibility of the assistance programme for the child and supervision during the period of placement, has an obligation to keep the probate judge or the Juvenile Court informed, depending on whether it concerns respectively a measure of a consensual type (arranged by the local service itself and made enforceable by the probate judge) or of a judicial type (arranged by the Juvenile Court). The local social service which is assigned the responsibility for the assistance programme and surveillance during the period of placement, must report without delay to the probate judge or the Juvenile Court of the place where the child is hosted (according to the type of measure), any event of particular importance and is required to submit every six months a report on progress of the assistance programme, on its further duration and on developments in conditions of difficulty of the core family of origin. In addition, the probate judge, according to article 337 para. 3, is required to ensure observance of the conditions that the Court has established for the exercise of parental responsibility.
343.As regards placement in an institute, this is generally monitored by a multidisciplinary team, formed by employees of the same institute with the obligation of monitoring the condition of the child and his/her progress. From an analysis made by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre on national legislation concerning deinstitutionalization, there also emerges that different Regions give an important role to the duties of supervision and control of local bodies, to be achieved in close cooperation with Juvenile Courts and with the public health services.
344.As noted above, Regions are expected to adopt their own specific legislation for regulating authorization and accreditation of residential structures for children, in respect to the functions assigned to them by the reform of Title V of the Constitution. In compliance with national regulations, many Regions have issued their legislation and/or regulations aimed specifically at the definition of criteria for authorization and accreditation of these services. The regional and provincial regulations allow in fact the implementation of a differentiated system of hospitality in the framework of regional programming.
Committee recommendation No. 36 on the necessity to harmonize proceedings and costs of domestic adoption among authorized agencies and to conclude bilateral agreements with (sending) countries that have not ratified the aforementioned Hague Convention
345.Following the issuing of the Prime Ministerial directive of 4 April 2003, regarding the definition of uniform parameters for the assessment of adoption costs, the Commission on Intercountry Adoption, in collaboration with the authorized agencies, has carried out an extensive analysis of the present and prospective costs of the services provided to couples in Italy and abroad.
346.The Commission has identified a set of parameters to calculate the minimum and maximum applicable costs in order for the adoption proceedings to fully respect the principles of the Convention and the legal provisions concerning its ratification. In identifying such parameters, the Commission has highlighted the existence of high quality services which couples may request when they choose the authorized agency.
347.As regards the conclusion of bilateral agreements with sending countries, the Commission on adoption has recently concluded a bilateral agreement with the People’s Republic of China (published on the Official Gazette No. 109 of 10 May 2008). In previous years, the Commission had also signed agreements with Belarus (3 meeting minutes and 2 protocols), Lithuania (minutes), Bolivia (bilateral agreement), the Slovak Republic (Memorandum of Understanding) and Vietnam (bilateral agreement), the only sending country which has not ratified the Hague Convention to this day. Finally, the Commission is currently concluding an agreement with the Russian Federation.
348.With respect to general regulations on the institution of adoption, it must be underlined that Law 149/2001 introduced considerable modifications to the previous legislative framework. This law contains several provisions for the protection of children with family troubles which are based on practical and legal assumptions that are completely different from previous ones.
349.In accordance with the reformed regulations, only married couples are currently eligible for full adoption, whereas singles are excluded from it (except in the cases referred to in article 44). The spouses must have been married for at least three years or, considering both the period before and after their marriage, they must have cohabited stably and continuously for at least three years. The aim of this provision is to guarantee the child a stable family, whereas adoption is precluded to cohabitants, given that in their case there is no guarantee of a stable relationship.
350.Article 6 of the law on adoption introduces maximum (45 years) and minimum (18 years) limits to the age difference between the adopter and the adoptee.
351.The following are some other relevant developments concerning adoption:
The public prosecutors of juvenile courts have been given back a more relevant role, as they are mandated to collect useful information to assess whether a child living in Italy is in a situation of abandonment and to lodge a petition to declare that child adoptable (art. 9, para. 2, Law 184/1983). Therefore, given that the juvenile court can no longer open adoptability procedures of its own initiative, it reacquires its more natural role as an impartial third party (art. 111 para. 2 Constitution).
Procedures for the declaration of the status of adoptability have been reformed in such a way to involve more people and to collect more information, with the aim to reach more equitable decisions. In fact, the participation of some subjects is now mandatory, thus limiting the judge’s omnipotence: besides the child, there are his/her parents and relatives up to the fourth degree of kinship; the counsel of the child, parents and relatives (art. 10 para. 2 Law 184/1983); the guardian who acts as the legal representative of the child when his/her parents are absent, deceased or deprived (either temporarily or indefinitely) of parental rights, or, alternatively, the special curator representing the child’s needs, given the conflict of interests between the child and his/her parents which is inevitable and explicit in these procedures; the person to whom the child has been entrusted or the representative of the family-type community where the child is living (art. 15 para. 2 Law 184/1983).
Legal guarantees have been extended, as the child’s parents — and, in their absence, the relatives who have maintained a significant relationship with the child — must be notified of the opening of adoptability procedures. They must also be invited to choose their counsel and informed that if they do not, the court will appoint one for them. Together with their counsel, they will also have the right to take part in all court proceedings, to file preliminary motions and to see and get a copy of records (art. 10 para. 2 Law 184/1983).
Given the need to expedite court proceedings in order to give the abandoned child a new family as soon as possible, the preliminary phase of adoptability procedures has been abolished. This phase led to the issuing of an order, which gave the possibility to file an appeal against the juvenile court.
352.Two other modifications involved domestic and intercountry adoption:
(a)In general, adoptability and adoption procedures have been reformed in such a way to give children more opportunities to express their opinions (at least when the child is capable to do so), thus putting the focus of the decision on the adoptee. This was made by:
Making it mandatory to listen to the child’s opinions, thus requiring professionals and judges to learn how to relate to children
Lowering the minimum age at which a child must be heard
Focusing not only on the child’s troubles, but also on his/her inclinations, choices and opinions
Making it mandatory to take the child’s opinion into consideration before taking a decision
353.These provisions affect above all domestic adoption, but, to a lesser extent, also intercountry adoption. In fact, on 1 July 2007 new provisions came into force, such as article 45 para. 2 Law 184/1983 on the need to hear children also in some cases of intercountry adoption, and article 35 para. 4 Law 184/1983. The latter establishes that any foreign child under the age of 12 who has arrived to Italy for the purpose of adoption must be heard, “provided that this does not alter his/her psychological and emotional equilibrium, based on the evaluation of the psychologist appointed by the court”:
(b)The social rights of adoptive parents, which are closely related to the ones of the child, have been extended by equalizing adoptive and biological children (with respect to maternal leave, parental leave and time off). In addition, article 54 of the Budget Law 2007 further extended these rights:
As to maternal leave: female workers who adopt a child are entitled to a 5-month period of leave — thus equal to the period of mandatory abstention from work for mothers — instead of only 3 months (the period of abstention after birth). In the case of intercountry adoption, the mother can ask for leave also before the child’s arrival to Italy, when the couple has to spend time abroad to meet the child and conclude adoption proceedings.
As to parental leave: the adoptive or foster parents can ask for parental leave within eight years since the arrival of the adopted or foster child in the family (previously within eight years); furthermore, leave must be granted independently from the age of the child, until he/she turns 18 (the limit was previously set at 12 years of age).
354.With respect to intercountry adoption, in recent years the role and functions of the Commission for Intercountry Adoption have been considerably strengthened, based on the provisions of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.
355.In recent years there has been a significant development of post-adoption support services. This is in part due to increased awareness that adoption does not merely consist in the child’s arrival, but in his/her full integration in the new family nucleus. Thus, it is in this phase that more or less serious difficulties may arise.
356.With respect to the subjects involved in the provision of such services, it must be underlined that a more prominent role has been given to the school system, the third sector (authorized bodies and associations of adoptive families) and the health care system. In fact, there is an increased awareness of the need to create an integrated network of support services in favour of the adoptive family and of the adopted child. A number of diversified projects and interventions have been activated in this field, such as: the setting up of regional working groups for the promotion of support services for adoptive families; the drawing up of regional protocols for the elaboration of instruments and methodologies aimed at improving family support and the reception of adopted children; the organization of meetings between families and field workers; the creation of self-help groups and the provision of psychological and pedagogical support through the experimentation of pilot projects; the involvement of schools through information and awareness campaigns; initiatives to share best practices on how to promote the integration of adopted children at school; the setting up of services for adopted children with a specific focus on prevention; the promotion of information and awareness campaigns targeted at the health care sector and at paediatricians.
357.The analysis of the services and initiatives activated across the national territory clearly shows that collaboration and networking among the various institutions have been considerably strengthened.
358.Given the growing number of incoming foreign children, the school system has recently had to elaborate adequate educational approaches and initiatives. School can undeniably play a fundamental role and it should be involved in the process for the full integration of the adopted foreign child in the social environment. The school is also the place where signs of troubles and difficulties experienced by the child may emerge. Furthermore, the school system can also act as an educational and pedagogical mediator, by promoting contacts and relations between teachers and parents. The services and initiatives aimed at facilitating school reception and integration of adopted children have thus multiplied. In most cases, the school system is involved through the collaboration between the welfare worker and the teacher concerned, in order to address a specific case. However, in recent years, several forms of collaboration between the school system and the local welfare services have been promoted and developed. This has been achieved mostly through the setting up of educational and awareness campaigns targeted at teachers and focusing on the school integration of adopted children.
Adoption support services for children with mental and/or physical disabilities
359.Many couples are willing to adopt children with minor mental and/or physical disabilities, which, with adequate treatment, may be partially or totally cured. Considering this attitude of many aspiring adoptive parents, it is appropriate to promote and develop support services both for the families and the children. Such services should complement the broader system of initiatives in favour of the disabled and they should address the specific needs of adoptive families. Clearly, adopted children with disabilities require specific care. In these cases, families and professionals have indeed to deal not only with health-related issues, but also with the trauma of abandonment experienced by the child, which usually has a relevant impact on his/her mental and/or physical disorders.
H.Illegal transfers and returns
360.In expectation of a further increase in mixed couples and in their possible break-ups, it is clearly necessary to adopt measures to guarantee the child the right – established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child – to maintain personal relations with both parents, even if they are separated and live in different States. Today, the right of the child to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis (even after their separation and divorce) is considered inalienable, and it must be safeguarded in all possible ways. With the Law No. 64 of 15 January 1994, Italy ratified and adopted the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This Convention is aimed both at securing the prompt return of wrongfully removed children and at recognizing or restoring the right to access of the parent who does not have custody of the child.
361.Family disputes over custody of underage children have also been the object of a Regulation of the European Union (No. 2201/2003) — which is thus directly binding for Italy — concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility. Italy identified the Department for Juvenile Justice as the central authority in this field. Italy has more recently made another step forward to protect the right of the child to maintain relations with both parents, even if they live in different States. Indeed, on 1 April 2003 Italy signed the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children.
I.Violence, abuse and neglect ,
Committee recommendation No. 38 on the realization of studies and awareness-raising campaigns on the topic, on the amendment of the legislation for a special protection against all forms of violence against children, on the evaluation of the work of existing structures and related training, on the modalities of investigation through a child-sensitive inquiry and judicial procedure
362.In Italy, the available national statistics on violence against children mainly concern the cases reported to the criminal and civil judicial authorities. In fact, there are no specific national statistics on the child victims of violence; ill treatment and abuse who are assisted by the community-based social and health-care services or who have been reported to juvenile courts to take civil protection measures. Thematic data are collected through specific, ad hoc studies, as well as by Regions through their own surveys or information systems registering children assisted by the social services. According to the Interregional Centre for IT, Geographical and Statistical Systems (CISIS), in September 2006 seven Regions were experimenting, at a regional or at a local level, a computerized social record, i.e. an electronic instrument to collect and elaborate data about individuals — both adults and children — assisted by the social services (Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Piedmont, autonomous Province of Bolzano, Tuscany). Another five Regions declared that they were planning to launch this type of experimentation (Latium, Marches, Sicily, Umbria, Aosta Valley). Besides this general instrument, which makes it possible to map the number and characteristics of individuals (also underage) in trouble who benefit from support and protection services, some Regions are experimenting specific records for the collection of data on children and adolescents who are victims of sexual abuse and ill-treatment (such as in Piedmont and Veneto).
363.With respect to the official judicial statistics available at a national level, the information on ill treatment, sexual abuse and exploitation come from the elaboration of data flows, often made in collaboration with the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT). Such data come from databases managed by different institutions: the Ministry of Justice and, in particular, its General Directorate for Information Systems, which manages the Information System for the management of Criminal Records (Re.Ge.), the Information System of Juvenile Civil Proceedings (SICAM) and Re.Ge. Minori (Re.Ge. Children, which is currently being integrated in the SIGMA Information System on Juvenile Justice); the Ministry of the Interior and, in particular, the Central Criminal Police Department — Joint Information System Service, which manages data coming from the SDI Information System of the Joint Database; the Central Department of the traffic, railway, communication Police and of the special units of the State Police, which manages data coming from the National Centre for Combating Child Pornography on the Internet (CNCPO); the Central Anti-Crime Department — Analysis Unit of the Central Operations Service, which manages information coming from the specialist units of the State Police listed in article 17 para. 5–6 of Law 269/1998; and the National Anti-Mafia Unit.
364.The available information meets the demand for quantitative data, as it provides details on the number of offences by type and by subjects reporting them. However, such data are not accompanied by specific in-depth analysis of the characteristics of the victims and of the perpetrators.
365.As regards sex crimes against children and adolescents, the Ministry of the Interior has also collected more detailed information on a selection of data coming from some local offices. These offices transmit to the Central Operations Service of the Central Anti-Crime Department of the State Police some information on the characteristics of the victims (age, gender, citizenship, etc.) and of the reported individuals (citizenship, arrested or not, type of relation with the victim, etc.).
366.An important step forward for the cognizance and monitoring of cases of sexual abuse and exploitation was made with the approval of Law 38/2006. This law provided for the setting up of a specific database within the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography.
367.To gain a better understanding of the conditions of risk and violence involving children and adolescents, Italy can also count on the data collected through the Emergency Phone Number for Children 114. This service was introduced by the Inter-ministerial Decree of 14 October 2002 and, following a public selection, it is currently managed by the charitable association “S.O.S. Telefono Azzurro onlus”. This helpline gives access to counselling to children and adolescents in trouble, to relatives and to social workers. From 1 January 2006 (when the service was extended to the whole national territory after a phase of experimentation and gradual extension) to 24 October 2007, the Emergency Phone Number for Children 114 intervened in 2,824 cases, with an average of 128 cases per month. Phone calls concern not only Italian, but also foreign children: almost one in four of the children reported to the helpline are indeed foreign (25.2 per cent as against 74.8 per cent Italian).
368.In the period under consideration, the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre was involved in two major research projects. The aim of these initiatives was to improve knowledge of child abuse, as well as to implement the National Plan of Action for Children 2002–2004:
Experimental project for the creation of a national system for the monitoring of child victims of neglect, ill-treatment and/or sexual abuse reported to and/or assisted by the community-based services. The objectives of the project were to experiment joint methodologies for the reporting of cases of suspected or substantiated child maltreatment and sexual abuse and to collect comparable data. The experimentation was carried out in the years 2005 and 2006 and it involved 18 community-based services of five different Regions in the North, Centre and South of Italy.
Retrospective sample survey “Percorsi di vita: dall’infanzia all’età adulta” (Life paths: from childhood to adult age) on education, work, emotional and family ties, health and violence. This survey was carried out on a sample of 2,320 women and it made it possible to estimate the prevalence of ill-treatment and sexual abuse among Italian women aged 19–60.
369.Another noteworthy study is the research/action promoted by the Department for Equal Opportunities called “La strada dei diritti” (Rights road). This initiative is part of the National Plan of Action developed by Italy on the occasion of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, in collaboration with the not-for-profit organization Save the Children onlus.
370.Another notable initiative was the Multi-Purpose Survey on Women’s Safety, resulting from an agreement between the National Statistics Institute – which carried it out – and the Department for Equal Opportunities – which financed it with the funds of the “Safety” and “System Actions” Operational Programmes of the European Social Fund.
371.Finally, several documentation initiatives and seminars have been promoted with the aim to encourage workers from different sectors and regions to exchange their experiences, as well as to improve knowledge of the phenomenon and of practices adopted to tackle it.
372.Based on criminal investigations of cases of child sexual abuse, it can be stated that there has been an increase in abuse perpetrated by underage individuals (even younger than 14) against other children.
373.In the period from 1998 to 2004, there has been a significant increase in the number of underage individuals involved in sexual abuse, in sexual intercourse with children and in the other crimes provided for in Law 269/98. In 2004, 888 underage individuals were reported for these crimes, as against 578 in 1998, thus marking a 53 per cent increase.
374.Another particularly relevant change for prevention, treatment and repression purposes is the growing incidence of underage individuals among the persons reported for child pornography. Indeed, their incidence rose from 6.5 per cent in 2003 to 10 per cent in 2004.
375.For juveniles guilty of sexual abuse, and in general for all criminally responsible children, except in the most serious cases with a high risk of recidivism and elevated social dangerousness, article 28 of the Presidential Decree No. 448 of 22 September 1988 (Adoption of provisions on criminal proceedings against underage defendants) introduced the so-called “testing procedure”. The article also introduced a number of objectives to be pursued concerning the best interest of the child, his/her educational needs and, even if guilty of a crime, his/her protection. Based on article 28, the judge can order the stay of proceedings for a maximum of three years: during this period, the child is treated by the children’s services of the Juvenile Court, in collaboration with the local social services.
376.The children’s services of the Juvenile Court are the direct addressees of the orders issued by the judge, whereas the local social services, with their expertise in the educational field, have to check the validity and adequacy of programmes. The social worker appointed by the juvenile judge must respect the guidelines of the Office of Social Services for Children.
377.Article 6 of the Presidential Decree No. 448/1988 assigns the children’s services of the Juvenile Courts the role of collaborators of the judge “at any stage and degree of the proceedings”. Their task is to assist the work of the judicial authorities by providing treatment and support to the child and by giving useful information on his/her personality and living conditions (article 9 Code of Criminal Procedure for Minors). Some centres, which had a long expertise in the treatment and support of children ill treated, neglected or sexually abused by their relatives or acquaintances, have recently begun to deal also with children guilty of sexual abuse. Initially, this happened in relation to cases of intrafamily abuse, such as violence perpetrated by a brother against a younger sister. Then, these centres gradually broadened the range of cases they dealt with.
378.The development of awareness-raising campaigns targeted at children and adolescents has been included among the best practices in the National Plan for the Prevention of and Fight against Paedophilia (2002). As reported in the section dedicated to the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography has a sum at its disposal, which is used to fund information and educational campaigns for the prevention of all forms of sexual abuse against children.
379.At a local level, in 2000, following a circular letter of the then Ministries of the Interior and for Social Affairs, the Provincial Committees of the public administration (now Permanent Conferences) began to take specific initiatives to raise public awareness of child abuse and to create local networks for the fight against these types of abuse. Some of these initiatives consisted in workshops, information and awareness campaigns targeted at children and adolescents. Other notable initiatives were the organization of training courses for workers in the field, the opening of information desks or of specialized counselling centres, and the promotion of communication campaigns. Thanks to the review carried out for the drawing up of the Report to Parliament on the implementation of Law 269/1998 (which traditionally focuses also on other forms of violence against children and adolescents), it was highlighted that almost all the initiatives promoted by the Provincial Committees or by other local inter-institutional coordinating structures followed an integrated and coordinated approach. Indeed, the aim of their initiatives was to take preventive actions by promoting cooperation between different professional sectors, between public and private services, between the institutions and citizens’ associations, and, in line with the principle of participation, between adults and children.
380.Most of the awareness campaigns on child abuse based on the active participation of children and adolescents were carried out by associations and NGOs (e.g. UNICEF – Italia, Save the Children, ECPAT), thanks also to the contribution of the central administrations, of the Regions or of the local bodies. At a local level, many initiatives have been financed with the autonomous funds of schools and with the sums allocated by Law 285/1997 Provisions for the promotion of rights and opportunities for children and adolescents.
381.Primary prevention of child abuse, in particular of sexual abuse, has been promoted through information and educational projects targeted at children and adolescents. These are slowly being integrated in the activities of all schools. The contents and methodologies of the projects developed across Italy vary considerably, as highlighted by the periodic reviews carried out by the Ministry of Education to meet its obligations as a member of the Inter-ministerial Committee for the Fight against Paedophilia.
382.The Government promoted the booklet Uscita di sicurezza (Emergency exit), a text targeted at adolescents, written by a working group of boys and girls aged 15–20 in collaboration with the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre.
383.The booklet contains considerations and suggestions on how to recognize situations of violence and abuse which may occur among peers, within the family, with friends or strangers. The texts are accompanied by useful information and indications on what to do and where to seek help.
384.Several initiatives are organized in the school setting. In this case, the most common formats are training and information courses for teachers and, in some cases, parents too, as well as specific activities and workshops for children. Projects involving children only begin after school workers have been adequately trained on how to deal with possible revelations by children. If already at risk, children may indeed be urged to seek help thanks to the activities in which they are involved.
385.Several NGOs invest in information and education to involve young people in cooperation and development aid and to spread principles of respect and solidarity. Their initiatives are supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which promotes campaigns against sexual exploitation and sex tourism. The initiatives carried out in schools focus on social and emotional education, children’s rights and communication. The methodologies adopted during these initiatives have been elaborated specifically for children and adolescents: they not only include researches on issues such as child exploitation, but also theatrical performances and creative workshops, journals “by the young for the young”, multimedia and interactive courses, role games.
Evaluation of interventions
386.Given the gradual development of services and the spreading of several initiatives, Italy is now focusing on the issue of their evaluation. In fact, it is essential to assess the quality and effectiveness of procedures and practices through the definition of guidelines, the creation of a network of services and the promotion of awareness and information initiatives.
387.At a central level, the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents, the Inter-ministerial Committee for the Fight against Paedophilia (CICLOPE) and the Observatory against Paedophilia and Child Pornography monitor the actions taken by the public administration, also in collaboration with civil society.
388.Another important tool for the monitoring of actions for the prevention and fight against sexual abuse and exploitation of children is the periodic Report to Parliament on the implementation of Law 269/1998. Article 17 of this Law establishes that the Report must be drafted by the Prime Minister’s Office, through the Ministry in charge of coordinating and monitoring the activities of the Public Administration. Another important review is the one provided for in Law 285/1997, concerning welfare policies in favour of children and adolescents. Besides the two periodic reports, several surveys and studies have been carried out to assess the impact and quality of services for the prevention of violence against children and for their protection.
389.As stated above, in 2001 and 2002 the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre carried out a review of the projects funded through Law 285/1997, concerning services against sexual abuse and ill-treatment.
390.A growing number of studies assess services, projects and the processes adopted in them, by analyzing good-quality elements in their methods and organization. These studies identify significant factors and indicators through specific instruments which have been elaborated ad hoc to detect their presence and to make objective and comparable evaluations.
391.Some guidelines help define the parameters and criteria based on which interventions should be evaluated. Some Regions (e.g. Veneto) have also identified objective parameters to determine how to allocate resources.
392.The Regions and the local authorities have developed a broad range of initiatives to combat violence against children which are based on primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Such initiatives can be grouped in four main categories:
Information and awareness campaigns targeted at parents, children and adolescents, and basic and specialist training of professionals
The creation of counselling services for the detection, diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of cases
The development of reception services (childcare communities, family homes, shelters for ill-treated women with children, networks of foster families, etc.)
The promotion of networks and coordination between the judicial authorities, the social and health care services, schools and associations, and the creation of professional teams specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of cases of sexual abuse and maltreatment
393.In general, the Regions and the local authorities elaborate long-term plans and follow a multidisciplinary approach involving a wide range of professions, institutions, NGOs and associations. The services tend to operate following a cross-sector approach to prevention which helps integrate and develop knowledge and expertise acquired in time. Welfare policies, thanks to the instrument of the Area Plan and to the increased awareness of the importance of a multisector approach, promote the collaboration of the local health authorities, municipalities, provinces, judicial authorities, regional education authorities, associations and cooperatives. Since 1999, the various Italian regions have set up inter-institutional working groups for the elaboration of guidelines on the coordination of actions against child abuse. In almost a decade, the Regions of Veneto (1999, 2005, 2008), Emilia-Romagna (1999), Latium (1999), Piedmont (2000), Tuscany (2002), Liguria (2004), Lombardy (2005), Campania (2005), Molise (2006), Abruzzo (2007) have regulated the organizational models of local teams of experts and of specialist centres, the integrated operations procedures and local intervention networks with the active participation of courts, hospitals and health services, residential services and specialist services. Professional organizations and public-private coordinating structures also gave strong impetus to the codification of measures for the protection of abused children through the adoption of intervention protocols and guidelines. These protocols and guidelines have been later adopted by the Regions and by the community-based services as well.
394.As to quality assessment and monitoring, it is important to underline that Italy was one of the first States to join the three-year programme promoted by the Council of Europe “Building a Europe for and with Children”. In particular, Italy took part in the experimentation of the activities listed in the Action “Children and Violence”. States participating in this initiative were required to set up a monitoring process, based on the constant review of the legislative, social, educational, health care and civil society sectors, with the aim to identify best practices and experiences to be taken as an example at a European level. Italy’s final report was the result of a review and of an open discussion with a large focus group of experts, who were invited to participate in a national seminar (Florence, October 2007). The States’ reports will provide the basis for the elaboration of European Guidelines on how to build integrated strategies against violence. Italy is a member of the Editorial Group in charge of drawing up these Guidelines.
395.The Seminar was an opportunity to make an updated and realistic overview of developments and problems in the work done so far in this field. Administrators, professionals of welfare services and academic experts came together to discuss the various models and practices adopted within the Italian strategy for the prevention and fight against child abuse.
Training of personnel
396.The main target of training activities is represented by workers in the social, health care, judicial and educational sectors. The Regions and the local bodies regularly promote training and refresher courses, which are integrated by similar private initiatives organized by associations and specialist centres.
397.The Superior Council of Judges has also promoted seminars about the need to listen carefully to child victims of crimes and about legal proceedings for sex crimes and domestic violence against children and adolescents.
398.The Guidelines for Training on Child Abuse and Ill treatment approved on 6 April 2001 during a joint meeting of the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents and of the Coordinating Committee for the Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse and Ill-Treatment (art. 17 Law 269/1998), provide guidance on how to organize the different levels of training. These guidelines are targeted in particular at the public administration.
399.As far as the legislation in force, in the period under study, Italy ratified the following international acts concerning the protection of children’s rights:
Law No. 148 of 25 May 2000, Ratification and Execution of Convention No. 182 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
Law No. 46 of 11 March 2002, Ratification and Execution of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts, Signed in New York on 6 September 2000.
Law No. 77 of 20 March 2003, Ratification and Execution of the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights Signed in Strasbourg on 25 January 1996 .
Law No. 146 of 16 March 2006, Ratification and Execution of the United Nations Convention and Protocols Against Transnational Organized Crime Adopted by the General Assembly on 15 November 2000 and 31 May 2001.
Law No. 48 of 18 March 2008, Ratification and Execution of the Convention of the Council of Europe on Cybercrime, Signed in Budapest on 23 November 2001 and Relevant Regulations on the Adaptation of the National Legal System. With this law, Italy adopted the Convention of the Council of Europe on Cybercrime, the first international agreement concerning crimes committed through the Internet or other IT networks. The aim of the Convention is to implement common policies in all the Member States, through the adoption of appropriate legislation for a coordinated fight against cybercrime.
400.In November 2007, Italy signed the Convention of the Council of Europe on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
401.Italian legislation bans all forms of violence through an integrated, accurate, complex and particularly strict system of provisions. In fact, as established in article 17 of the Revised European Social Charter, Italian regulations explicitly provide for the protection of children and adolescents from all forms of neglect, violence or exploitation.
Provisions concerning violations to family obligations, abuse of corrective measures, ill treatment, abandonment of children
402.These forms of violence against children are sanctioned by the original provisions of the Italian Criminal Code, articles 571, 572 and 593. For these types of crimes, prosecutors have the power to act on their own motion. In the Italian civil law system, child victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse are protected through an integrated system of rules which establish serious sanctions for parents if their conduct is detrimental to their children. Several measures can be taken, including the removal of the child from the family home for precautionary reasons (art. 333 Civil Code). If a parent violates or neglects his/her duties or abuses his/her powers to the detriment of the child, he/she can be deprived of parental authority. In particularly urgent cases, the court can take temporary measures (also of its own motion) in the best interest of the child (art. 336, last paragraph, Civil Code).
403.The provisions concerning sex crimes and the sexual exploitation of children have been reformed and innovated with several laws. The most recent one is the Law No. 38 of 6 February 2006, Provisions Concerning the Fight Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography Also Via Internet. This law introduced several new crimes, as well as new rules concerning pornography on the Internet. In fact, Law 38/2006 implements the provisions contained in the Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA (Justice and Home Affairs) of the EU Council, concerning the fight against sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
404.In conclusion, and to integrate sections IV and V, it is important to mention the new law against female genital mutilation. By means of Law No. 7 of 9 January 2006, Provisions Concerning the Prevention and Prohibition of the Practice of Female Genital Mutilation, the Italian legislator introduced measures needed to prevent, fight against and restrain all practices of female genital mutilation, which represent a violation of the fundamental right of women and girls to the integrity of their body and to health. First and foremost, Law 7/2006 envisages measures for the repression of the phenomenon, since it introduces in the Criminal Code article 583-bis which punishes with a prison sentence from 4 to 12 years anyone causing female genital mutilation without therapeutic purposes. This rule also punishes with a prison sentence from three to seven years anyone who, in order to maim sexual functions, causes injury to female genital organs other than those mentioned in the first paragraph without therapeutic purposes, thus causing a physical or mental disease. The sanction is increased by one third when these practices are committed against a child or if the crime is committed for lucrative purposes. Under the principle of extraterritoriality, these provisions also apply when the crime is committed abroad by an Italian citizen or by a foreigner residing in Italy, or against an Italian citizen or a foreign citizen residing in Italy. In this case, the offender is punished upon request of the Minister of Justice. Article 583 terfinally envisages an ancillary sanction for the health-care professional who commits any of the crimes envisaged by article 583 bis,i.e. the disqualification from profession for 3 to 10 years.
405.The new regulation also envisages the promotion of prevention activities, such as:
Information campaigns for immigrants from countries where the practices listed in article 583 bis of the Criminal Code are common. Information is given to immigrants when they receive their visa at the Italian consulate and when they arrive at the Italian border. These campaigns are aimed at disseminating knowledge of the fundamental human rights — of women and girls in particular — and of the existing prohibition of all forms of genital mutilation in Italy.
Awareness campaigns with the participation of voluntary associations, not-for-profit organizations and health-care facilities, which are targeted at the communities of immigrants coming from countries where female genital mutilations are carried out. These campaigns are aimed at promoting the social and cultural integration of immigrants, as well as at ensuring respect of the fundamental human rights of women and girls in particular.
Specific training programmes for teachers in primary and middle schools, also with the support of experts in cultural mediation, to help them prevent female genital mutilation, with the involvement of the parents of immigrant girls and boys. The objective of these programmes is to disseminate knowledge of the rights of women and girls in schools.
Training and information activities targeted at foreign populations (within the framework of development cooperation programmes conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in countries where female genital mutilation is still common), in agreement with the Governments concerned.
406.As regards the involvement of children in judicial procedures, and in particular the issue of listening to them, see the detailed analysis in section IV.
407.As regards the issue of the representation of the child’s interests and rights, see section V.
408.With respect to the protection of privacy, in particular to the prohibition to ask certain specific questions during witness examination, it is worth noting that article 472 of the Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits any question about the child’s private and sex life unless it is indispensable to establish facts.
409.Article 497, paragraph II of the Code of Criminal Procedure, referring to cross-examination during trial (but this can also apply to the case when the examination is done during the interlocutory witness exam), exempts children younger than 14 from the statement of undertaking to tell the truth (which now replaces oath for deposition). The reason was defined as the inability of a young child to perceive the negative value of false testimony and it is linked to the principles regarding criminal responsibility (children younger than 14 cannot be held criminally accountable).
410.The protection is also complemented by the code provisions aimed at protecting the right to confidentiality.
411.In many Italian towns, the local authorities have promoted constant networking among all the different professional figures who work with children or who have specific tasks and functions in judicial procedures.
412.This collaboration between the local authorities, the judicial authorities and the police has often led to the adoption of protocols, some of which provide technical details on the roles, functions and duties of each institution.
VII.Health and essential services (arts. 6, 18, para. 3; 23, 24, 26, and 27, paras 1–3)
A.Survival and development
Child and infant mortality
413.The constant improvement in the quality of health care services in Italy has led to a decrease in child and infant mortality.
414.In the early 2000s, mortality rates have continued to fall as in the Nineties. This is due to the decrease in all the main causes of death: from 1991 to 2003, the four main causes of death among individuals aged 0–14 (morbid conditions of perinatal origin, traumatism and poisoning, congenital malformations, tumours) registered the most significant decreases — given also their higher numbers — in proportional terms.
415.Overall, in absolute terms, the number of deaths among individuals aged 0–14 fell from 6,469 in 1991 to 3,165 in 2003, thus marking a decrease of more than 51 per cent.
416.The halving of deaths among children younger than 14 has also led to a similar reduction in the specific mortality rate every 100,000 inhabitants aged 0–14, which fell from 71.8 per cent in 1991 to 38.6 per cent del 2003.
417.The reduction in mortality involved all the age groups, in particular children up to one year of age (so that Italy now has an infant mortality rate which is perfectly in line with the European average) and, to a lesser extent — albeit still significant with a 40 per cent-drop of cases — children aged 1–4 and 5–14. In addition, the reduction has been higher among males — at slightly less than 40 per cent — than among females, also in consideration of the fact that the initial mortality levels were higher for males. The significant reduction in child mortality was registered in all the Italian regions, but it reached maximum levels in the south.
418.However, differences between Northern and Southern regions persist as to perinatal mortality. This type of mortality is closely connected to the efficiency of the health care sector and it can be rightly considered as an indicator of the efficiency of the health care system in providing care both to women during pregnancy and to newborns in their first days of life.
419.The most recent estimates made available by the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT) date back to 2006 and they only give indications about big groups of causes and about the 1–14 age group. According to these estimates, from 2003 to 2006, the mortality rate among children aged 1–14 decreased both for males and for females: from 1.50 to 1.30 every 10,000 inhabitants for males, and from 1.19 to 1.09 for females. Statistics also show that infant mortality has decreased in time, even if it has remained more or less constant since 2003, with values close to 37 out of 10,000.
420.In Italy, many children’s infectious diseases are now preventable thanks to the availability of safe and effective vaccines.
421.The epidemiological data concerning new cases of infectious diseases among Italian children are provided by the Ministry of Health and they are based on the reports sent by the competent local health authorities.
422.Before interpreting the data concerning reports of infectious diseases, it is important to make a preliminary consideration and to stress the need to be very cautious. In fact, the available statistics tend to underestimate the phenomenon, given that, despite the existence of a legal obligation, in practice the reports are not always sent out to the Ministry.
423.Based on the available data about child population, and in particular about the group of paediatric age 0–14, a few considerations can be made:
Almost all of the main infectious diseases decreased from 1995 to 2007
In 2007, there were about 75 reports of cases of meningococcal meningitis among children aged 0–14 and 44 among individuals aged 15–24; the 2007 statistics seem to confirm the downward trend which began in 2006: in fact, in 2005 the number of reports was almost double
On the other hand, in 2007 there was a slight increase in cases of pneumococcal meningitis as against 2006, whereas the cases of Hib remained more or less stable
For two infectious diseases in particular, there was a major downfall in the number of reports from 1995 to 2006, especially in the 0–14 age group: measles and rubella; this is probably due to the increased availability of vaccines (from 2005 to 2006 the number of cases fell by 50 per cent)
As to pertussis, in this age group there are still 700 cases per year, whereas in the past decade their number was fivefold
The percentage incidence of reports concerning children aged 0–14 on the overall number of reports is null for such diseases as blenorrhagia, syphilis, tetanus and tularemia
The percentage incidence of reports of diphtheria and poliomyelitis is null in the whole Italian population
424.The downward trend recorded in recent years is certainly due to the carrying out of effective mass vaccination campaigns and to routine vaccination of newborns against tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, pertussis, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, and infections due to Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). These vaccines — all free of charge — are indeed included in the list given to every newborn’s parents, which indicates the recommended number of shots and the time schedule.
425.Early childhood vaccinations represent an opportunity to provide children with early protection from preventable diseases which affect more frequently and more seriously small children.
426.It is worth noting that in 2003 Italy launched the National Plan for the Elimination of Measles and Congenital Rubella (PNEMORC). In line with the objectives of the WHO European Region, this Plan promotes the use of the MMR vaccine with the aim to eliminate measles as well as congenital rubella, but also to keep mumps under control, thus significantly reducing its complications.
427.Finally, 2008 marked the beginning of the national campaign for HPV vaccination among girls in the period between their 11th and their 12th birthday. The aim is to prevent infections due to types 16 and 18, which account for about 70 per cent of cancers of the uterine cervix. In this case, it will be possible to assess the impact of the campaign on public health only in a few decades. However, the results of researches carried out before the authorization of the vaccine identify it as an innovative and effective public health measure.
The cases of paediatric AIDS
428.In the last 13 years there has been a gradual decrease in the number of cases of paediatric AIDS. In fact, after the peak of 84 new cases recorded in 1995, in 2007 there was only one case. The strong reduction in cases of paediatric AIDS is certainly due to the positive effects of prevention policies, to the implementation of guidelines concerning some health care treatments, such as antiretroviral treatment for pregnant women, and, more in general, to the increased awareness by the population at risk of the problems related to this disease.
429.Out of 59,106 cases of AIDS reported in Italy until 31 December 2007, 765 (1.3 per cent) were recorded in the paediatric population, i.e. in patients who were younger than 13, or who were older than 12 at the time of diagnosis but who had been infected by vertical transmission.
Suicides and attempted suicides among children
430.From 2000 to 2004, the average number of suicides among children stabilized at lower levels than the ones recorded in the previous decade. In fact, from 2000 to 2004, the annual average of ascertained children’s suicides was 35, as against an annual average of 47 ascertained suicides in the Nineties, with a peak of 74 suicides in 1994. In relative terms, suicide rates among individuals aged 14–17 — the age at which 90 per cent of children’s suicides occur — gradually and significantly decreased from 2.5 suicides every 100,000 residents in 1994 to 1.1 in 2004.
431.A similar downward trend was registered for attempted suicides. From 2000 to 2004 the average number of attempted suicides per year was 99, whereas in the previous decade the annual average was 124. Therefore, the rate of attempted suicides by individuals aged 14–17 decreased from slightly more than 5 cases every 100,000 residents of the same age in the early Nineties to 3.6 in 2004.
432.Finally, at the European level, Italy has the lowest suicide rates among children aged 5–14 and among young individuals aged 15–24. In the latter age group, the Italian rate is equal to 2.9 suicides every 100,000 residents of the same age, as against rates which are above 15 suicides every 100,000 residents of the same age in Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Latvia.
Traffic accident mortality among children
433.In recent years, Italy has registered a significant decrease in traffic accident mortality, thanks also to the coming into force of Law 151/2003, which introduced the point system as well as new rules in the highway code (use of safety belts, reduction of speed limits, prohibition to use a cell phone while driving, use of the helmet, etc.).
434.In this framework of general reduction of the phenomenon, also the data concerning children have shown a significant and encouraging improvement: 721 cases in 1975, 300 in 1985, 174 in 1995, 97 in 2005. If we consider the population of reference, in 2005 traffic accident mortality among children younger than 14 was equal to 1.2 every 100,000 children of the same age. With respect to children aged 15–17, even if the decrease in the number of deaths is just as significant, the mortality rate is still much higher, as it is equal to 11.4 victims of road accidents every 100,000 residents of the same age.
435.Therefore, it is clear that when children turn 14, risk factors increase in parallel with the growing number of children riding light motorcycles or scooters.
B.Children with disabilities
436.According to the latest ISTAT’s sample survey on health conditions and provision of health-care services, in 2005 there were approximately 145,000 children under age 17 who lived with at least one parent and who had impairments or permanent disabilities.
437.On 30 March 2007, in the United Nations headquarters of New York, the Italian Government signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which had been approved by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006. Italy has since then initiated the process of ratification and adaptation of its domestic legislation.
438.The basic principles of the Convention do not recognize “new” rights of persons with disabilities. The Convention is actually intended to ensure that, based on the regulations of the States parties, persons with disabilities can enjoy the same rights as any other citizen, thus fully implementing the principle of equal opportunities for everybody. The purpose of the Convention (which is made up of a Preamble and 50 articles) is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. The Convention defines as persons with disabilities all those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. The Convention is integrated by an Optional Protocol (made up of 18 articles) which was also signed by Italy.
439.Finally, use of the WHO’s ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) has been promoted to assess disabilities, with the aim to provide adequate access to benefits and support services, such as in schools. In particular, a new Protocol on the school integration of children with disabilities has been adopted, which strengthens collaboration and networking of the health-care services, schools and social services through specific agreements.
C.Health and health-care services
Committee recommendation No. 40 on the access to health services to all children and parents
440.The National Health Service has significantly expanded its activities in favour of mothers and children, which now include not only disease prevention and treatment, but also more general care for the child-family unit and the promotion of child development in the various stages of life. This was possible thanks to the considerable improvement of basic health services, such as paediatric services, as well as to new scientific discoveries concerning child development.
441.The National Health Care Plan for 2006–2008 is affected by the relevant changes introduced in the political and institutional framework by the gradual devolution of powers from the central State to the Regions. In the welfare sector, the basic principle guiding devolution has been the one of subsidiarity, i.e. the involvement of all the institutional and social stakeholders in the management of citizens’ services. As reported in the official presentation of the new National Health Care Plan, the role of the State in the health care field is evolving: while in the past its main function was to directly organize and provide services, the State now has to guarantee the equity of services across the national territory. The National Health Care Plan, while considering the existing national differences, puts forward a set of guidelines on how to reduce health risks and promote qualitative and quantitative equity in the provision of health care services.
442.Given the new role of the State in this field, the State-Regions Conference set up a monitoring desk on the Essential Levels of Health Care, as had been previously established in an agreement on 8 August 2001. The tasks of this desk are to monitor and control the actual implementation of the Essential Levels of Health Care and to check whether the estimated costs respect budgetary expenditure. In this framework, the National Health Care Plan lays down the objectives to achieve in order to guarantee the Constitutional right to health, as well as the other social and civil rights to be fulfilled in the health care sector. Furthermore, the Plan also gives indications on how to reach the European health targets and it promotes coordination with the EU programmes.
443.With respect to children, the chapter “Newborn, child and adolescent health” of the Plan focuses on the practical implementation of the project in favour of mothers and children laid down in the National Health Care Plan for 1998–2000, which dedicated a specific section to health care and promotion in the age of development (childhood and adolescence). In order to guarantee the unity, efficiency and consistency of measures in favour of mothers and children — given the different, albeit homogenous and complementary subjects involved — the project envisages the creation of an integrated system of services to the individual, focusing in particular on health promotion, assistance to pregnant mothers and provision of care in the age of development.
444.The National Health Care Plan focuses on some fundamental aspects of children’s health (e.g. infant mortality and congenital diseases), analyzing past achievements and problems yet to overcome. In particular, prenatal care is a fundamental objective for prevention purposes, and it should be achieved through an interdisciplinary approach by involving general practitioners, paediatricians, schools, leisure centres and the media.
445.The main strategic objectives to guarantee the health of newborns, children and adolescents are the following:
To improve care in the perinatal period and to humanize birth by promoting early breastfeeding and rooming-in, taking as well into account the other standards set by the WHO and by UNICEF for the “Baby-Friendly Hospitals”; to reduce inequalities existing among the Italian Regions, with the aim to decrease neonatal mortality primarily in the Regions where it is higher; to optimize the number of paediatric and maternity wards, to group pregnancies at risk and to ensure emergency transportation services for newborns and expectant women at risk.
To promote information campaigns targeted at pregnant and lying-in women, also through childbirth preparation courses and counselling services, in order to prevent crib deaths, to promote breastfeeding, appropriate child transportation in cars, vaccinations and reading out.
To educate the young about health promotion, physical activity, appropriate behaviours and eating habits, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), drug addiction, alcoholism and responsible reproduction; campaigns should be carried out in collaboration with schools and counselling services (in particular the ones for adolescents) to prevent and fight against child abuse, ill-treatment and exploitation, and to prevent road and home accidents.
To prevent andrological and gynaecological diseases in the age of development.
To monitor and reduce overweight and obesity in young generations, through measures which should involve not only families, but also schools, cities as well as the media and the surveillance bodies in charge of spreading healthy eating habits (such as eating more fruits and vegetables) and of fighting against misleading advertising campaigns.
To reorganize Paediatric Emergency Services.
To reduce inappropriate hospitalizations in the paediatric age.
To improve care for patients with congenital malformations.
To elaborate appropriate protocols for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of congenital, hereditary and rare diseases and to better organize regional and interregional centres of reference and welfare services.
To improve care for children and adolescents with chronic diseases by promoting networking of specialist centres, hospitals, local welfare services, schools, patients’ associations and not-for-profit organizations.
To monitor and fight against doping, which seems to be more and more common among young amateurs, through the involvement of families, schools, sports organizations and the National Health Service. The participation of all these parties is indeed fundamental to know the real extent of the phenomenon, to develop an effective plan for the prevention of and fight against doping and to take appropriate actions.
To reorganize the counselling services which operate in hospitals and in the community already before conception, in order to actively promote initiatives aimed at reducing risks during pregnancy.
446.With respect to the more specific issue of mental disorders, several measures have been taken in favour of children, such as:
The issuing of the “National Guidelines on Mental Health” (approved by the Conference of State, Regions and Local Bodies on 20 March 2008), which provide indications for the reorganization of child and adolescent care.
A project for the activation, within mental health departments, of community-based pilot services for the early identification and treatment of psychoses.
A project to assess the effectiveness of psychological and educational interventions within the family on the clinical conditions and disabilities of patients affected by major depression, on family charges and on the risk of mental disorders in underage children.
A training project for professionals working with mothers and children on how to early detect psychological, social and depression risk factors which negatively influence parental skills and child development; the project also envisages pilot preventive measures concerning parents at risk.
A project for the promotion of mental health in schools, by teaching how to set oneself realistic objectives, how to face and solve problems, how to communicate more effectively, how to develop self-discipline, how to improve negotiating and cooperating skills, how to better control impulses and how to take the emotional reactions of others into consideration.
A project for the spreading of best practices in the treatment of eating disorders, with the aim to elaborate a Memorandum based on scientific evidence and to update and/or redefine the existing Guidelines. Another project is aimed at preventing risk behaviours through education, information and awareness campaigns in four settings: schools, sports, media and diet industry.
447.In 2006 the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, in collaboration with the Commission for Equal Opportunities, carried out information and awareness campaign on the problem of child abandonment by mothers who have relational, economic, isolation or marginalization issues.
448.In the same year, the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, promoted an information and prevention campaign on anorexia, bulimia and psychogenic obesity. These diseases are often underestimated, but they have a serious impact on the mental and physical health of a significant percentage of adolescents.
Committee recommendation No. 42 on the measures to strengthen mental health and counselling, on undertaking studies on the causes and backgrounds of psychological disorders among adolescents, on the promotion of campaigns of information and preventive measures concerning teenage pregnancies
Child brides, child mothers, and recourse to abortion
449.The number of child brides decreased significantly in a relatively short time, as it passed from 1,562 in 1993 to 282 in 2005. In relative terms, there is slightly more than one child bride every 1,000 officiated weddings. In practice, hardly anyone gets married below the age of 18 years: this is all the more so for male children, given that in 2005 there were only 6 such cases. Besides the very limited extent of the phenomenon, it is worth noting that it is concentrated in few regions: besides Apulia, with 23 child brides in 2005, Campania accounted for more than half of child brides in 2005 (149). Child mothers also contribute very little to birth rate, with only 0.4 per cent of live births registered in Italy in 2003. Apart from the limited extent of the phenomenon in Italy, it must be noted that most of the babies of child mothers are born out of wedlock.
450.An important aspect to focus on is the distribution of births by mother’s age, as the statistics clearly show that reproduction occurs at an increasingly older age. This phenomenon, which began in the Seventies, has contributed to the strong reduction in birth rate registered from the late Seventies to the early Nineties. In 2006, mothers living in Italy were on average 31 years old when they had a baby, so they were approximately one year older than they were in 1995 (29.8).
451.Only 11 per cent of newborns have a mother younger than 25. This percentage exceeds 15 per cent for mothers living in Sicily and Sardinia, whereas it is always lower than or equal to 10 per cent in all the Regions of the North and of the Centre of Italy.
452.On the other hand, the average national percentage of newborns whose mother is older than 34 shifted from 25.4 per cent in 2004 to 27.7 per cent in 2006. The highest proportions are recorded in Sardinia, Latium and Liguria, where more than one newborn out of three have a mother who is older than 34.
453.One of the most relevant changes is the constant decrease in births to women under age 18 (equal to 0.4 per cent in 2006) on the one hand, and the increase in births to women over age 40 on the other. Since 1995, the former has decreased by 24 per cent (from 3,142 births to women under age 18 in 1995 to 2,372 in 2006), whereas the percentage of births to women over age 40 passed from 2.4 per cent of the total number of births in 1995 (with 12,383 newborns) to 5 per cent in 2006 (for a total of 27,938 newborns). In Sardinia, in particular, the percentage of births to women over age 40 reached 7.5 per cent.
454.The issue of voluntary termination of pregnancy by underage women is different and more complex. In the past 10 years, the number of abortions has stabilized around 3,600–3,700 cases per year, thus marking a sharp decrease of more than 50 per cent as against the previous decade. The reduction in the number of abortions by underage women has been proportionally stronger than the one recorded in the Italian population of women of childbearing age, so that the former now represent slightly less than 3 per cent of the overall number of abortions.
455.The risk of abortion for underage Italians is approximately one third of the one for women of childbearing age: the abortion rate — i.e. the number of abortions per year by women aged 14–17 every 1,000 women of the same age — is equal to 3.3, as against 8.9 for women aged 14–49. The comparison with the other European countries also shows that Italian young women tend to have recourse to abortion quite rarely. Italy has indeed one of the lowest abortion rates among underage women in Europe. In particular, with slightly less than 6 abortions by women aged 14–19 every 1,000 women of the same age, Italy is far from other countries, mostly in Northern and Eastern Europe, where the incidence of abortion is much higher.
456.Sex education has now been included in the health education curricula of high schools. In particular, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, schools carried out the “Missione Salute” campaign, targeted at students in the first two years of high school, to their families and teachers. In the framework of this campaign, the Ministry handed out six booklets on nutrition, addictions, doping, blood and organ donation, first aid and prevention of AIDS and sex education. Professors received a special booklet containing suggestions and teaching tips. Overall, 1,141,263 copies were handed out to students and 76,000 to teachers.
457.The implementation of the project was preceded by information and educational campaigns mainly targeted at school directors, high school teachers and parents.
458.The World Health Organization and many international experts have long stressed the importance to put sexual and reproductive health at the centre of broader programmes for the promotion of health.
459.With respect to sexuality and reproduction, the main problems emerge at certain stages of growth, in particular during the passage from childhood to adolescence, and when preparing for life as a couple and planning to have a child – an event which has major consequences on couples and on their sexuality.
460.Other key issues are safe sex and the preservation of fertility and of the reproductive system.
461.Furthermore, an effective sex education can help promote responsible contraception and management of risks or of urgency remedies.
462.These issues require the adoption of new methodologies and the acquisition of new technical skills, such as:
(a)Sexual negotiation, i.e. how to evaluate and solve conflicts through conversation and negotiating techniques;
(b)Problem-solving skills, to be acquired through increased awareness and better resources;
(c)Strengthening of self-esteem and of gender awareness;
(d)Adults’ capability to face emergencies with a constructive, not only punitive, approach;
(e)Working with couples by providing public services capable to meet demand early and quickly, whereas most of the sex counselling services are now private.
463.In order to address these issues, it is important to organize training initiatives for the professionals dealing with them, especially in family guidance centres, with the aim to elaborate new and effective measures.
464.The methodologies which can be adopted have all been approved at an international and at a European level. The health services in charge of sex education are the family guidance centres.
465.The settings in which to intervene are the following:
(a)The youth services within the family guidance centres;
(b)The schools – possibly all of them, or, in case of lack of personnel, for the age group which is considered most important. In this setting, teachers and parents must be involved as well and empowered to receive questions and to address them.
466.The collaboration and interaction between a school and a family guidance centre may begin with the administration of the HPV vaccine to 12-year-old girls. This type of collaboration can help raise girls’ awareness about health protection, but also about problems they will encounter in the future with their sexuality and maternity.
Use of contraception
467.The results of the survey on fertility carried out in Italy in 1995 show that, in the sample under study (formed by women aged 15–49), 21 per cent of women made use of hormonal contraception, 7 per cent used an IUD, 14 per cent made recourse to coitus interruptus, 5 per cent made use of natural methods and 14 per cent used the condom.
468.According to the 2000 CENSIS (Social Investments Study Centre) report on the sexual habits of Italians, the most common contraceptive methods are coitus interruptus (31.6 per cent) and the condom (28.4 per cent), followed by “the Pill” (20.9 per cent), the natural methods (4.2 per cent), the intrauterine devices (3.2 per cent) and the diaphragm (1.3 per cent), whereas 10.4 per cent of couples used “no method” at all.
469.According to a survey carried out in 2003 in five European countries on a sample of women aged 15–49, the prevalence of the use of hormonal contraception is equal to 19 per cent in Italy and in Spain, 27 per cent in Great Britain, 34 per cent in Germany and 45 per cent in France.
The diffusion of the combined oral contraceptive pill
470.The diffusion of estroprogestinics (hormonal contraception) in Italy can be calculated based on the sales of pharmaceutical products. The indicator is the ratio of sold packages to the overall number of women of childbearing age. Italy ranks among the last countries in Europe for the diffusion of the combined oral contraceptive pill, even if its use is slightly growing.
471.However, it is important to highlight the existence of regional and macroregional differences. Based on sales statistics, in 2002 the diffusion of the combined oral contraceptive pill was equal to 23.6 per cent in Northern Italy, 20 per cent in Central Italy and 13.3 per cent in Southern Italy. A non-negligible percentage of all prescriptions of estroprogestinics (approximately 20 per cent) is estimated to have only therapeutic purposes.
The diffusion of the IUD (coil)
472.In Italy the intrauterine device is now used by 3–5 per cent of women of childbearing age, thus marking a 40 per cent-drop as against the Nineties.
D.Social security, childcare services and structures
473.See the paragraphs concerning access to the health services, measures for the promotion of breastfeeding and health education in schools.
474.In November 2006, the EU Social Protection Committee (SPC) set up the EU Task-Force on Child Poverty and Child Well-Being, which in January 2008 issued the first report on child poverty in the 27 EU member States.
475.The document consists of three parts: an evaluative review of child poverty and social exclusion in the EU; policy monitoring and assessment of child poverty and well-being in EU member States; conclusions and practical recommendations aimed at better monitoring and assessing child poverty and well-being at EU and country levels. The first part of the report highlights that the intensity of poverty, i.e. the poor’s distance from the poverty threshold, is the same for children and adults at the EU level. However, this varies considerably from one country to the other and in Italy the intensity of poverty is significantly higher for children than for the overall population. In this respect, Italy is one of the countries which spend less and which thus have high poverty risk rates.
476.It is also based on this document that the Government has promoted the measures of income support and for the reconciliation of work and family life described in section VI (A).
Actions for the fight against poverty
477.In Italy, the general strategies for the fight against child poverty and social exclusion are included in the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents and in the National Plan of Action against Poverty and Social Exclusion.
478.At the European level, in the framework of the revision of the Lisbon Strategy, the EU member States decided to improve and simplify the process for the coordination of their welfare policies – pensions, social inclusion and fight against poverty, health care, in particular long-term care for the elderly. The main aims were to promote more effective networking in the sectors listed above and to ensure better integration of welfare policies with macroeconomic, microeconomic and employment policies. The National Plans of Action against Poverty and Social Exclusion are a fundamental tool to define strategies and actions at a national level, to elaborate new coordination methods for the initiatives of the various institutions, and to promote the active participation of the third sector in the definition and implementation of social inclusion policies.
479.The National Plans of Action are presented to the European Commission, which then draws up a “Joint Report”. This report describes the general trends emerging at the EU level in the field of poverty and social exclusion, as well as the priorities set by the Member States, but it also contains recommendations on the areas in which to intervene.
480.Italy’s National Plan of Action against Poverty for 2006–2008 sets a list of priorities which have been identified on the basis of the 2005 Report of the National Commission of Inquiry into Social Exclusion and of the indications of the European Commission.
481.The National Commission of Inquiry has identified some critical aspects, such as the absence of a system of social rights defined through minimum levels of care, as well as the need for more uniform services across the nation.
482.The European Commission has stressed the need to increase the participation of women, young people and more vulnerable groups in the labour market, as well as to improve coordination of policies at a national level in order to reduce regional disparities.
483.With respect to child poverty, the National Commission of Inquiry has stated that it is increasing because of the growing poverty of families with underage children. Poverty is also increasing among the young, and the Government has identified this issue as a priority both at a national and at a local level. In general terms, the new National Plan of Action calls for the integration of income support measures with services for the promotion of lifelong learning and with policies in favour of employment and of labour market integration.
484.The main priorities of the new National Plan of Action are: to fight against poverty (focusing in particular on child poverty), to close the gap between Northern and Southern Italy, to increase participation in the labour market, to promote access to rights, services and goods and to strengthen efforts for the social inclusion of marginalized groups (focusing in particular on unaccompanied foreign children and on the issue of school drop out). In the plan, the Government undertakes to reduce poverty and to reach the European average by 2010. To this purpose, the Government is implementing a fiscal reform, increasing family income support, reviewing housing policies, strengthening the role of the third sector and renewing its efforts for the fight against extreme poverty.
485.For details on the specific measures of income support and support to families with underage children (in particular to large families), see section VI.
486.Finally, it is worth mentioning that Italy took part in several European initiatives, among which the setting up by the EU Social Protection Committee (SPC) of the EU Task-Force on Child Poverty and Child Well-Being, in November 2006. In January 2008, the Task Force issued the first report on child poverty in the 27 EU member States.
VIII.Educational, cultural and leisure activities (arts. 28, 29 and 31)
Committee recommendation No. 44 on the drop-out rate in upper secondary education, the inequalities in educational achievement between girls and boys and among children from different social, economic or cultural groups, the setting up of adequate mechanisms and structures with input from children to prevent bullying and other forms of violence in schools, the respect of children’s rights to express their views concerning their education
A.Teaching and vocational training
487.Between 2000 and 2007, several fundamental principles were reaffirmed, signalling important lines of change in our country, as previously outlined in the modifications to Law 9/1999.
488.There is first of all a propensity, in this as in other public sectors, towards a decentralization of competences that were previously the exclusive preserve of central government. This has led to a gradual handing over of competences relative to realizing the right to study to regional bodies (Regions, Provinces, and Municipalities). During the same period, the project previously outlined in Law 59/1997 relating to the autonomy of educational establishments and the relative implementing measure (Presidential Decree No. 275 of 8 March 1999) has also been consolidated.
489.There is not as yet, therefore, a standardized nation-wide framework of measures for bolstering education. However, within the ambit of various principles set out at central level, it is revealed as being differentiated and powerful, responding to needs and capacities closely bound up with the local territory.
490.The funding sources for the new projects being implemented by the educational establishments have themselves become diversified, and now include third sector resources, European funds and funds made available by establishments such as local foundations. This has led to a completely new method, for the Italian educational system, of implementing and managing the programming of educational activities, encouraging Italy to fall into line with the European model of valorising the responsibilities incumbent upon those bodies set to benefit from these financial resources, which will involve submitting procedures and results to a valorisation and monitoring plan. Equally, this has also given rise to various distortive effects, given that alongside experimental measures, which by their very nature are subject to contingent planning, bound up with the availability of funds, there are some activities that, after their initial inception, require the setting up of systems that are hard to put into action where uncertainty over funding exists.
491.A third and crucial point, which applies to the positions of the various governments in office between 2000 and 2007, is the raising of the compulsory school and training age to 18. This has been achieved in a variety of different ways (as will be explained further on), according to their various different political orientations; one mutual objective has, however, become manifest, which is that of reducing the immediate and exclusive numbers of adolescents in this particular age group leaving school to enter the world of work.
492.Measures to combat early school leaving implemented by the Ministry of Education, in a continuity of past approach, have become focused on promoting:
The systematic involvement of all the key actors through the development of agreements and partnerships at a national, regional and local level
The recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning
The development of lifelong readily accessible policies and guidance systems
The development of differentiated teaching courses and open learning environments
The integral use of information and communication technologies (ICT) throughout the education and training system
The devotion of special attention to educational activities for disadvantaged and at-risk groups
493.These objectives are closely tied in with European policies and, in particular, with the OECD Recommendations of 17 April 2007 on Early School Leaving and Equity of Education.
494.For a full understanding of the figures and data on early school leaving, the two relevant analysis dimensions should be touched upon again briefly.
495.The first dimension is the one that refers to the number of dropouts flagged up during the school year, i.e. the actual dropouts that take place during the course of a single school year. To this should be added the number of repeaters, those who have been moved up conditionally, setbacks accumulated over the years and moves to different types of schools, which nevertheless constitute wastage.
496.The second is more akin to the European “early school leaver” indicator, established as a result of the “work force” survey carried out by the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT). This indicator refers to the number of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who have only completed middle school and who are no longer in the education and training loop.
497.In a European context, Italy began to note improvements as far back as 2000. Despite the fact that 20.8 per cent of children had left after middle school and were not attending any sort of training course in 2006, the data for 2007 show a slight improvement, narrowing the gap between Italy and the other European countries. The situation is critical, however, in some regions, particularly in Campania (28.8 per cent), Sicily (26 per cent) and Apulia (23.9 per cent).
498.The situation in Southern Italy is particularly critical, despite the fact that this part of the country is the focus of various initiatives, such as projects for at-risk areas and areas with strong migratory flows, underpinned by the financial resources (€53,000,000 per annum) set out in article 9 of the National Contract for the Education Sector 2006–2009, and the projects financed with funds from the Structural Fund, aimed at preventing and salvaging early school leaving, within the ambit of the National Operational Programme dedicated to schools in Southern Italy. The new European Structural Fund Planning for the period 2007–2013 continues to focus on this issue. In fact, the National Strategic Framework for regional development policies 2007–2013 sees education as a priority for unitary regional policies and it identifies “increasing student skills and the learning capacity of the population” as a measurable target for the Regions of the Convergence Objective (Calabria, Campania, Apulia, Sicily).
499.According to national observations, the extent of the dropout phenomenon is, rather, assessed on the basis of the number of students who have not formalized their truncated school careers in any way. Furthermore, the 2007 Budget Law introduced “obligatory schooling” up to the age of 16, dischargeable both in the educational system and in the integrated three-year courses launched on an experimental basis by the Regions in conformity with State agreements, which culminate in Level 1 vocational qualifications. Given that there is now a multiplicity of courses, offering both education and training, an exhaustive analysis of early school leaving could only be achieved by collating all the sources of information, i.e. the Ministry of Education and Regions, as provided for under Legislative Decree No. 76/2005.
500.The latest data, made available by the Ministry Survey of all State and non-State schools, which refer to the academic year 2006/07, show that the number of dropouts was equal to 2,791 (equal to 0.1 per cent) in middle school and 44,664 (equal to 1.6 per cent) in high school. As in the past, wastage in high schools generally occurred in the first year of study. Early school leaving — in high schools in particular — is prevalent not just in the Southern Italian regions (as previously mentioned) which are characterized by situations of economic and social disadvantage, but also in those parts of the country renowned for stronger economic/production systems, where the labour market exerts a powerful pull. Campania and Sicily are the regions in which the dropout problem is most obvious, followed by Apulia and Lombardy.
501.In order to move on from the ad hoc approach that has traditionally characterized measures targeted at this particular objective, the Inter-directional Group for the Prevention and Combat of Early School Leaving (G.L.I.D) was set up on 11 March 2008 by Departmental Decree No. 19.
502.The remit of this Group is to direct, coordinate, monitor and evaluate interventions targeted at early school leaving. They started by attempting to do away with the ad hoc and additional strategies and to set up an “integrated system” of coordination at national level between the Governing Boards with experience in this field, in order to create an education strategy that brought all the various parties involved together in a united and integrated vision of interventions that would be to the advantage of students and their personal and social growth.
503.The following are some of the measures specifically targeted at early school leaving.
504.First and foremost there is the provision of ad hoc funds for areas seen as being at risk of early school leaving: this measure, regulated by article 9 of the National Contract for the Education Sector, has been in force since 1999 and is renewed every three years. Resources are channelled towards the implementation of projects in areas selected at central government level, which assigns the funds to the Regional Education Units which then allocate them to the various schools, while the measures themselves are set up by each individual regional system through agreements with the unions. The fund has earmarked an overall allocation of €53,195,060 a year.
505.In addition, other funds are channelled towards Southern Italy in particular, where the early school-leaving rate is higher. The national education operating programme, La scuola per lo sviluppo (School for Development), which was set up between 2000 and 2006, marked out specific areas for action to curb early school leaving (Measure No. 3 “The Prevention of Early School Leaving”, financed by the European Social Fund, and Measure No. 4 “Infrastructures for School Inclusion and Social Integration”), financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Altogether 4,965 projects were set up for an overall commitment of expenditure of €187,099,929.49. 140 centres for the prevention of early school leaving, established according to the provisions of Measure No. 4, are currently in operation. The overall cost came to €31,350,310.52.
506.Other measures targeted at Southern Italy for 2007–2013 include the National Operational Programmes Competenze per lo sviluppo (Development Skills), financed by the European Social Fund and Ambienti per l’apprendimento (Learning Environments), financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
507.These programmes are the result of ongoing, intensive work by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Labour and the other central authorities, Regions, social partners and third sector representatives, coordinated by the Ministry for Economic Development. This teamwork was also focused on specific agreements, currently under definition, with the Regions and central authorities with a view to optimizing planning and avoiding any fund overlap.
508.The targets on which the programmes focus are raising and increasing the distribution of skills and learning capacities of young adults and to make school a more attractive proposition.
509.These objectives give priority to interventions on all those factors that, directly or indirectly, have a bearing on the quality and accessibility of the system, such as afternoon school, teacher training, the use of innovative methods, setting up workshops in schools.
510.One of the measures intended to combat early school leaving as a consequence of illness is the provision of education in hospitals, which over the last few years has become a branch of the education system, and the home education service which recognizes the right/duty to education for children who are unwell, even at home, with a view to making their return to their schools of provenance easier.
511.In an endeavour to make organization and teaching more flexible, while responding to the needs of children who take part in competitive winter sports, an agreement has been set up with the Italian National Olympic Committee (Law 166/1002) for the implementation of the three-year pilot project Ski-college, which takes in nine secondary schools in the Alpine and Apennine regions.
512.Important experiments such as the promotion of “street” activities, regulated by the Agreement Protocol between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry for Social Solidarity were implemented in 2000. This project, known as La scuola in strada e nelle zone a rischio (Street Education and Education in Risky Areas), makes explicit reference to local authority planning underpinned by funds as provided for under Law 285/1997, concerning the promotion of child and adolescent rights. Worthy of note are the “street teacher” programmes implemented in the cities of Naples, Padua and Trento.
513.The aforementioned Law 285/1997 on guidance and education support has, in fact, enabled respectively 187 and 117 projects to be set up during the first two three-year programmes (1997–1999 and 2000–2002). The areas of intervention concerned both the setting up of counselling, information and sensitisation networks for children, families and teachers, teaching support and mentoring, and training and work-related guidance. Many of the projects (most of them during the second triennial) made explicit reference to containing truancy, a target that is also being pursued through accompaniment towards workplace insertion for adolescents with troubled school careers. From the third triennality of Programme 285 onwards, it has become impossible to monitor these interventions separately from the organic whole of local policies geared to children and adolescents, which are financed by a single national fund. Nevertheless, several experiments are still ongoing, and some have been adopted.
514.Ministerial planning also includes the setting up of a registration and records system for the ongoing monitoring of early school leaving, in order to pinpoint difficult situations that may arise throughout the territory. Pursuant to article 3, paragraph 4 of Legislative Decree 76/2005, a pertinent agreement between the Ministry of Education, University and Research and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, is being set up, as a united convention, for collating the various different registers (residents, those enrolled in schools, vocational training and in apprenticeships) into the National Registration System for Students.
515.In matters concerning the prevention of early school leaving, the Ministry of Education works in tandem with other ministries and institutions — not all of them governmental — that are members of the Coordinating Panel for the Prevention of Exploitation of Child Labour, which is responsible for defining joint measures which also apply to early school leaving and the quality of training on offer.
516.Conscious that effective guidance is a prerequisite where attempting to curb early school leaving is concerned, the Government has committed appropriate funding for the training of provincial and regional guidance officers. Recent legislative measures have also decreed that guidance activities should become an integral part of the vocational programmes offered by the various different educational establishments.
517.With regard to the measures that have had a positive outcome thus far, Italy is seeking greater synergy with the regional production and business associations that have always been interested in effective guidance provisions.
518.The annual collection of data on early school leaving reveals quite significant differences between the various Regions. The General Directorate is pledged to monitoring the funds that have been contractually assigned to at-risk areas for projects for later implementation by the schools.
519.With regard to vocational training, throughout the period under consideration (2000–2007), this has been central to the debate on education, particularly in regard to the splitting of competences between State and Regions and the upgrading of the three-year vocational training courses, together with the five-year training courses offered by the technical and vocational institutions.
520.The school reforms under the Government that held power from 2001 to 2006, provided for a sort of transformation of all high schools into licei (i.e. more “academic” high schools), which had the effect of turning technical high schools into technological licei with specific remits. These reforms, which advocated regional competency for vocational training, strongly underlined the practical/work experience component for all students, increasing opportunities for work-experience and on-the-job training, and for participation in linked work and education courses.
521.The crux of the question concerns the validity at national (and European) level of the qualifications earned on completion of the vocational training courses run at regional level, which fulfil the duty and right to education and training. One attempt to regulate this was provided by Legislative Decree No. 226 of 2005, which disciplines the essential levels of service that the Regions are required to guarantee in the matter of education and vocational training. The Decree has, however, remained suspended and the experimental two-year integrated courses, taught jointly by teachers from vocational training centres and further education colleges (most of which are technical), that can be accessed once compulsory schooling has been completed (which up to 2006 was after the first cycle of education), are continuing pro tem. This is all based on the 2003 Framework Agreement signed at the Joint State-Regions, State-Cities and Local Bodies Conference.
522.Law No. 40 of 2007, article 13 dealt with the distinction between licei, technical high schools and vocational colleges. With regard to integrated two-year courses, it is envisaged that these will continue to be run during the first few years of education reform, during which time frequenting these courses will enable pupils to complete their compulsory education (raised as previously mentioned to 16 years of age).
523.During this transition period, at this present time (Oct. 2008), the duty to compulsory education can also be lawfully discharged by attending three-year vocational training courses run by the Regions, as provided for under a specific Agreement Protocol drawn up in 2003 at the State-Regions Conference.
524.Guidance has always been central to government thinking. An organic initiative in this direction was implemented in 2004 with the drawing up of a National Guidance Plan, which aimed to strengthen national networks of the various different subjects involved in this sphere (schools, families, local authorities, the employment and business world, the voluntary sector and associations) with the ultimate aim of providing support for people in making effective decisions about their lives.
525.Alongside this, the National Guidance Committee has worked towards the definition of guidance guidelines and shared methodological, organizational and operational stances for developing integrated national guidance activities and staff training. Both projects included a guidance-training plan for referents and mentors at regional level, with a view to enabling teachers to carry out their duties from a progressive standpoint of continuous exchange with the regional networks.
526.Guidance relating to choice of schools is now provided by the establishments themselves with Open Days, specifically geared to meeting families and potential future pupils, held during the period from November to December each year.
527.Alongside these largely informational initiatives, regional planning still has a crucial role to play in regard to the 285 funds set up in 1997. This has focused on accompanying children through the important choices they have to make in regard to the available study, employment and training opportunities, with the provision of many interventions. One of the major successes in this regard have been the Informagiovani youth information services, which have become widespread and established throughout the national territory.
528.The annexed information provides details of all funding for school building and safety at school.
529.When considering the issue of school performance, the importance of taking into account on one hand the learning of the subjects covered by the curricula and on the other the question of unhappiness at school has been recognized for some time.
530.In Italy, the former can be gauged quantitatively and qualitatively from the results of the PISA Studies, which reveal that Italian pupils in the second school cycle do not exactly figure high up in the European tables. Although this information is certainly food for thought, it should however be borne in mind that this particular approach tends to penalize children who are unused to taking closed, multiple-choice tests – such as the Italian students.
531.Another major contributory factor that impacts on achievement is the extent of “education debts”. With regard to this point, it has become clear over the last few years that not a few children are “dragging” education debts along throughout their study cycle, with the consequent risk that the gaps in their education may never actually be filled. Measures aimed at redressing education debts applied to 26.8 per cent of students with deferred adjudications as at the end of June 2008. 6 per cent of these students were not admitted to the next class up, despite the remedial courses run by schools, leading to a 2 per cent rise in the number of students who failed to move up. 59.4 per cent of Italian students were eligible for admission to the next class up in June 2008. This figure rose to 83.8 per cent in the wake of the remedial courses provided for under Ministerial Decree No. 80 of 3 October 2007 and Ministerial Order No. 92 of 5 November 2007. Pursuant to the aforementioned Decree, remedial measures were also implemented during the course of the school year at such times as educational lacunae were spotted.
532.A further key driver in Italian schools concerns the regional differences in pupils’ performance. The differing social capital available to children in the various Regions impacts on their learning abilities, thus giving rise to inequalities that reflect the different levels of social, cultural and economic development in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country. In this regard, interventions such as those described in relation to at-risk areas also aim to tackle this geographical disparity, targeting the most difficult areas in particular.
533.The Government has devoted particular attention to the issue of unhappiness at school, with the accent on one of the many dimensions that this concept involves. Apart from failure to learn and the quality of learning, unhappiness of a relational nature also exists. This sometimes directly impacts upon the other two aforementioned aspects, while in other cases, while not necessarily compromising them, it can have negative psychological effects and affect a child’s ability to face up to the demands of the outside world, which are increasingly bound up with relational skills. This is why the Three-Year National Student Welfare Plan (2007–2010) has been set up, with the aim to prevent unhappiness and promote the overall welfare of the individual. One of the main pillars of the programme is that “being at ease with oneself and with others can also lead to greater opportunities in education, work and life choices”.
534.This is a pedagogical perspective which sees the person as central and the means by which teaching becomes education: this question has been widely debated since 2000 up to the present day, and it is closely bound up with a vision of school as also being a place for learning civil and social coexistence.
535.From 2000 onwards, one of the key issues has been that of the scholastic integration of foreign children, whose presence in schools is increasing, and which now constitutes a structural strand of the Italian teaching system.
Foreign children at school
536.The presence of foreign children in Italian schools has risen over the last two years. They accounted for 0.8 per cent of the school population in 1997/1998, rising to 5.6 per cent in 2006/2007.
537.Whereas there were slightly over 70,000 non-Italian citizens in our schools in 1997/98, 10 years on there are now more than half a million, which means that the growth rate is seven-fold. In 2003/2004 in particular, there was a further acceleration in the powerful and steady increase in the foreign population, which was confirmed in the following years and which still continues, with a likelihood of perceptible increases over the medium term. This means that, while there was an almost insignificant national average incidence of 0.8 per cent in 1997/1998, equal to one foreigner for every 125 Italian pupils, this went up to 5.6 per cent in 2006/2007, roughly equal to one foreigner for every 18 Italian pupils. This incidence has been calculated as the national average, but it has affected other values over the national territory, evidence of another aspect of the migratory phenomenon in Italy: the uneven distribution of foreigners throughout the land.
538.The issue of the presence of nomadic pupils in Italian schools is extremely topical. They accounted for 12,342 units, rising 4.3 per cent in the academic year 2007/08 over the previous academic year. These data derive from a partnership between the Ministry and Opera Nomadi, with whom an Agreement Protocol was sealed in 2005. Over half of the nomad pupils attend primary school, whereas only 2.5 per cent enrol in upper secondary school. The Region with the greatest number of nomad students is Latium, with 2,331. Aosta Valley is the complete opposite, with no record of the presence of any nomad pupils.
539.In 1997 there were 42.7 per cent Europeans as against 57.3 per cent non-Europeans, 10 years later they account for almost 50 per cent (49.5 per cent), establishing themselves as the majority group, albeit within a large and varied multicultural migrant heterogeneity. Of these, the Romanian situation stands out quite clearly.
540.With regard to the various school sectors, primary schools contain the greatest influx of foreign students, with 7.7 per cent of the pupils being non-Italian citizens. The highest incidence of all foreign pupils (7.1 per cent) is in the State sector, with one foreign pupil in every 14. The incidence in middle schools is slightly higher (7.3 per cent), while there is a 6.7 per cent incidence in infant schools.
541.These three average incidences, which are relatively high compared with the incidence in high schools (4.3 per cent) — confirming yet again the concentration of foreigners in the early sectors of the education system — corroborate the “youthful” nature and the spread of the migratory phenomenon.
542.There is also a perceptible difference between the various geographical areas: in the North the greatest foreign incidence is in primary schools (possibly a symptom of younger, second generation immigration), while in Central and Southern Italy, there is a greater incidence in middle schools (probably a symptom of an older, first generation immigration).
543.It is interesting to note that, compared with the general national average which indicates a foreign presence rate equal to 5.6 per cent, during the first year of primary school in the North East, the average incidence rate is more than double (11.7 per cent), confirming the foreign presence in that particular geographical area. evince
544.In high schools too, the distribution of foreign presences by class year and by region follow the above-mentioned trend, but it is clear that in Southern regions, the greatest incidence is in vocational and technical schools, while in Central regions there is a greater incidence in upper secondary schools specializing in classics, science, teacher training and art (the licei).
545.The figures for the Northern area are probably attributable to the fact that the area’s production and financial world is more attractive, encouraging foreign students to take up training/education opportunities likely to lead to immediate employment. On the other hand, the figures for the Central belt, where the situation is largely stable, the presence of foreign students in the different sectors of secondary education reflect a broader range of secondary-school teaching, in conformity with the findings for the overall school population.
546.It has been the enrolment trend in high schools that has actually confirmed the fact that, during the 10-year period under consideration, the migratory process has gone from being a cyclical trend to an intrinsic and consolidating factor.
547.Overall, in terms of absolute data, the numbers of foreign pupils, which rose from 85,522 in 1998 to 574,133 in 2007, increased almost six-fold. However, compared with this almost universal trend in schools of all levels, high schools again proved the exception, with the absolute number of foreign students rising twelve-fold (from 8,910 in 1998 to 102,829 in 2007).
548.In all scholastic sectors the increase in the relative percentage incidence, i.e. as compared with the overall scholastic population, was continuous and steady in each year of the decade under consideration. In infant schools, the incidence rose from 1.3 per cent to 6.7 per cent, with a four-fold increase in the initial value; in primary schools too, which had the highest average incidence of all the various school sectors (7.7 per cent), there was a four-fold increase in the initial value by the end of the 10-year period, while in middle schools, the percentage incidence was even higher (four and a half times the initial value). In high schools, the increased incidence, again compared with the total scholastic population, was almost 10 times higher (from 0.4 per cent in 1998 to 3.8 per cent in 2007).
549.In terms of overall quantity, the foreign scholastic population enrolled in schools of all types and levels for the year 2007/08, is approaching the enrolment levels of the Italian population, even though it is fair to say that several thousands of foreign children are still not taking advantage of the education on offer.
550.The survey of foreign children enrolled in high schools by school type reveals the differing weight of their presence in the various types of schools. In vocational colleges they actually account for 8.7 per cent of the total number of students, whereas they make up 4.8 per cent of the total in technical high schools. Their presence in high schools specializing in classics and science is lower, with an incidence of 1.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively over the total numbers enrolled.
551.As regards the scholastic success rate, measured here simply in terms of passes and fails, in primary schools those pupils of non-Italian citizenship fail to gain admission in 3.6 per cent of cases, as against 1 per cent of Italians. In middle schools, where the failure rate of Italian pupils is contained at an almost physiological rate (2.7 per cent of the total), the failure rate for foreign pupils is nearly 10 per cent (more than three times that of the Italians), which constitutes not just solid and significant evidence of the existing gap, but also a worrying symptom of a widespread level of failure that cannot fail to rebound on subsequent school careers.
552.The sizeable gap between the success rates of Italians and foreigners that is noticeable even during the first cycle of education calls for structural prevention and bolstering measures, not least because it tends to get even wider in later years.
553.Leaving aside the various different types and orientations of high schools, the overall situation shows that the fail rate of foreign students is double that of Italians (28 per cent non admissions for the former, 13.6 per cent for the latter), making the final gap between them 14.4 percentage points. This disparity further and worryingly puts the accent on the wastage in schools during the first teaching cycle.
554.It is the vocational colleges that achieve the worst results, with a pass rate equal to only slightly over two students for every three tested. In schools of this kind, the difference in final success is over 9 percentage points.
555.The licei have the highest rates of admission of non-Italian pupils to the next class up (80.3 per cent) compared with other educational establishments. However, it is in these types of high school that there is the lowest success rate compared with Italian students (12.3 per cent). The smallest percentage gap between Italians and foreigners in admissions to the next class up is seen in art colleges and secondary schools specializing in art (“only” 8.9 per cent).
556.Specific, focused training has been introduced for teachers in schools with a high percentage of foreign students. More specifically, first and second level training modules have been created for teaching Italian as a second language to foreign students and for placing greater value on students’ mother tongues. The training programme, entitled “Italian L2. Language of contact, language of culture”, was coordinated by the General Directorate for Staff in collaboration with the Regional Education Authorities and universities. The programme involved 1,000 teachers from all the regions. At present, the programme is running in the regions that have the highest concentrations of foreign students — Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Latium — and it is being managed, autonomously, by the relevant Regional Education Authorities.
557.There is also a training programme in the pipelines for teachers that have Roma pupils in class. It is being organized in conjunction with the Regional Education Authorities and the various associations that represent the Roma and Sinti communities. The programme is part of the larger National Plan for the Schooling of Roma and Sinti Children.
558.At the same time there is a training programme in place for school directors. It has a dual focus, helping to build management skills both within the school (staff organization, systems for welcoming and promoting inclusion, language laboratories and teacher facilitators) and outside (relations with other institutions, associations, intercultural mediators, the private sector and volunteer associations).
559.Training seminars for directors of schools with high percentages of foreign pupils have been held in Rimini (May 2007), Turin (Nov. 2007) and Milan (April 2008, with special attention given to training newly-appointed directors).
560.There is a plan in place to continue this training of directors in Veneto, working in collaboration with the Regional Education Authority.
561.Among other activities aiming at promoting the foreign pupils integration, the First Intercultural Commission created in the late 1990s must be here recalled. The Ministry of Education picked up on this, opening the Office for the Integration of Foreign Pupils at the General Directorate for Students in June 2004. This office is charged with supporting, improving and coordinating efforts to welcome and integrate foreign pupils. It is supported by a specially created working group made up of teachers, school directors, ministry officials and representatives from scientific institutions, universities and associations. This allows ongoing exchange and the chance to highlight what is happening and what is needed in the country.
562.Plenty of attention has been given to ensuring the right to education and training for everybody, including children without valid permits of stay. Emphasis has been placed on getting such children in the correct classes for their ages.
563.In December 2006, under the previous government, the National Observatory for the Integration of Foreign Pupils was created. The observatory is made up of a technical committee and a scientific committee, which consist of teachers of various subjects and experts in cultural mediation. This observatory has, through fieldwork, uncovered how foreign children and adolescents are really integrating in Italian schools. In October 2007, it produced a summary of the guiding principles for this process (The Italian path to the intercultural school and the integration of foreign students). There are four basic elements that schools, with support from the government, must base their actions on: the realization that the rights of children are universal, which could be reformulated as the right of every child to education and equal opportunities, guidance and educational achievement; one school, meaning the avoidance of differentiated classes; developing relationships to help people fulfil themselves; including an intercultural element in all school subjects.
564.Specific action has also been taken in three areas, with the government’s intention being to continue along these lines: training teachers of Italian as a second language, organizing Italian courses, training teachers that work with children from the Gypsy communities.
565.In addition, the Ministerial Circular No. 96 of 14 November 2007 changed how the fund, pursuant to Article 9 of the National Contract for the Education Sector (referred to in the previous point), is split for at-risk areas and areas with substantial migratory flows.
566.Article 1, paragraph 1267 of Law No. 296 of 27 December 2006 (2007 Budget Law) sets out the creation, at the Ministry for Social Solidarity, of a fund, known as the “Fund for the Social Inclusion of Immigrants”, that is designed to favour the social inclusion of migrants and their families. This fund was allocated €50,000,000.00 a year for 2007, 2008 and 2009. The following paragraph of the law, namely 1268, sets out that the Ministry for Social Solidarity, in conjunction with the Ministry for Rights and Equal Opportunities, is responsible for the measures needed to access the fund. A directive signed by the competent ministries on 3/8/2007 implemented these provisions and outlined the key areas for action, the main goals, the types of activities eligible for financing, the subjects that can benefit from the financing and can propose ideas, and the allocation of the financial resources.
567.This fund for social inclusion placed plenty of emphasis on young immigrants, promoting activities that helped them be more included in schools and receive guidance and/or seeking ways to improve the relationships between the families and educational establishments. This was the background for the promotion of a series of different types of action, all developed and carried out in close collaboration with the Ministry for Public Education, that were, necessarily, based on a partnership with a single school or a network of schools.
568.The social inclusion fund has access to a total of €2,556,000.00 (including €941,551.93 for actions to aid the Roma). In 2007, 30 projects (including 5 for Roma students) were financed across the country, out of a total of 76 proposals, (including 7 for Roma students). The proposal came from the third sector, with total spending amounting to €2,555,565.76 (including €941,551.93 for actions in favour of Roma students).
Students with disabilities
569.In the late 1970s, the Italian Government adopted an inclusive model for schooling, thus paving the way, in terms of legislation, for the integration of students with disabilities. 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of Law No. 517 of 4 August 1977, which is the benchmark law for the integration in schools of pupils with disabilities. In celebration of this event, various sensitisation initiatives were launched across the country.
570.The National Observatory for the Integration of People with Disabilities has been in operation since 1996. It is made up of a technical committee and a scientific committee, which consists of university lecturers from various fields and a range of experts, as well as a consulting body that brings together the major Italian associations for disabled people. The observatory acts both as a consultation body and as a ‘meeting point’ between the various requests from across the country and the administration.
571.Actions to aid pupils with disabilities focus on two fronts: on the one side, to increase the opportunities for autonomous learning and, on the other, to spread a culture of inclusion in schools that recognizes and respects diversity.
Various national projects focus on these goals
572.The New Technologies and Disabilities Project was begun in 2005 to promote learning and autonomy in school tasks through the use of IT. This is a complex project that has led to, among other aspects, the creation of over 90 Territorial Support Centres. These are technology centres, based at schools and evenly distributed across the country, that have both the hardware and the staff with the necessary skills to enable technology to be used to aid pupils with disabilities. The project also makes available significant electronic resources for remedial teachers: software, best practices, educational courses for specific disabilities, online consulting for technological support. It also involved a call for bids to create innovative software, which would then be distributed for free, thus creating a research opportunity in a field that had previously seen limited private investment.
573.The ‘I Care’ project, begun in 2007, arose from the observation that, in terms of legislation and organization, the integration process had reached its end, but that much remained to be done in terms of relationships and emotional responses. Indeed, until the educational community — pupils, teachers and administrative staff — has ‘internalized’ respect for diversity and changed its emotional behaviour to be based on the principle of inclusion, the integration of pupils with disabilities will remain an unresolved issue. This project is based on both research and action. It seeks to encourage reflection about the practices, relations, organization and teaching involved in relations with pupils with disabilities.
574.The E-inclusion project encouraged the dissemination of new technologies in Southern Italy, providing schools with hardware for activities designed to promote the educational integration of pupils with disabilities.
575.In addition, under the last government, around 30 thousand teachers were taken on to provide support for children with handicaps and/or learning disabilities.
576.In Italy, emphasis is placed on integrating disabled children into normal classes and providing teachers with specific remedial skills for disabled children. This also has a legal framework in Law No. 517/1977 and is based on the rationale that the remedial teacher can assist the teaching done by the ordinary subject teachers. As was highlighted in the tables above in this document, during the 2007/08 school year the number of differently-abled children that were integrated into Italian schools stood at 174,547, in State schools, and 14,166, in private schools, amounting to 188,713. In State schools alone, there are 90,889 remedial teachers, resulting in a national ratio of teachers to differently-abled pupils of 1.92.
Action in the sphere of juvenile justice
577.Education is not only a constitutionally guaranteed right, but also a fundamental principle in how children are treated (art. 15 of Law No. 354/75) and, more generally, how the juvenile justice system acts when dealing with children and young adults. The principles governing educational activities for underage offenders are, first of all, tied to the right/duty to study. This is in line with Decree Law No. 76/2005 and Law No. 296/2006, which sets out that education be mandatory for at least 10 years and, as such, the minimum age for working be increased from 15 to 16 years. Children subject to criminal proceedings are, first and foremost, a question of social — rather than criminal — deviance, with dropping out of school being one of the most visible and symptomatic aspects of the exclusion from this fundamental right. In addition, two of the key principles in applying the provisions governing juvenile criminal proceedings are the promotion of education and giving children a sense of responsibility. This entails creating educational ‘projects’ for every underage offender that contain behavioural requirements, schooling commitments and other training activities. It is also necessary for the child to fully embrace and be accountable for the implementation of the project. In practical terms, creating appropriate projects requires the competent bodies in various sectors — Justice and Education, Vocational Training, Employment and Social Policies — to give their input about the activities and actions to be included in a project. Furthermore, the contents of such projects always focus on education, socialization and training. The Department of Juvenile Justice’s General Directorate for the Implementation of Judicial Provisions signed an Agreement Protocol with the Ministry of Education, outlining the commitments for the development of an integrated educational and vocational training system for juvenile offenders. This includes provisions for integrated educational and training programmes to continue even once the young offender has completed his/her sentence.
578.On 5 February 2006, a specific ministerial directive was adopted, entitled “General guidelines and national actions to prevent and fight bullying”. This resulted in the implementation of some key initiatives:
A promotional campaign that used different methods depending on the type of school.
The setting up of a toll-free number, at the ministry, where bullying can be reported and schools and families can receive counselling on how to act.
The creation of regional observatories, via the allocation of funds for the Regional Education Authorities, that are designed to work closely with local entities to put in place initiatives and to develop and improve best practices and skills in the region. These observatories also ensure that bullying is uncovered and monitored on an ongoing basis, that there are ties between the various institutions involved in educating students about lawfulness and that the actions undertaken by various bodies can be assessed. They also oversee and encourage the promotion and monitoring of information and refresher courses designed for various members of the educational community.
The creation of a website, www.smontailbullo.it. This is a meeting point, a place where the information from the observatories and toll-free operators can be disseminated and a bulletin board for the various campaigns underway in schools.
The promotion of initiatives that educate children about the correct use of the Internet and new technologies. Particular attention is placed on actions that help students become critical, competent users of the new means of communication and entertainment and that teach them about the importance of respect for one’s own privacy and that of others.
A promotional campaign was also launched to sensitize parents about the choice of video games and the PEGI ratings, that is, the self-regulatory codes used across Europe by the makers of video games.
Various information initiatives were studied, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and the “TV e minori” (TV and children) committee, regarding the “Internet e minori” (Internet and children) self-regulation code and discussions were held with TV broadcasters and major film and TV production companies in an effort to try and contain the phenomenon of TV violence.
The recommendations from the Commission led to the creation of a TV ad — “Against the herd we form a group” — now shown on MTV.
579.The Ministry for Public Education has drawn up two framework acts, for all autonomous educational establishments, on the use of mobile phones at school (Ministerial Circular prot. No. 30/DEP/Sec. of 15 March 2007) and on various aspects linked to current privacy laws (Ministerial Directive No. 104 of 30 November 2007).
580.The Italian Government recently launched a campaign entitled “Smonta il bullo” (Dismantling the bully) that involved setting up, starting in 2007, a website where cases of bullying can be reported and local initiatives, undertaken by educational establishments to make people aware of the issue, can be publicized. Backing was also given to the formation of provincial and regional observatories for bullying, on the initiative of the competent educational offices at the various territorial levels. In some cases, the issue was broadened to cover the issue of unease at school.
581.This takes a broader perspective that is more positive — rather than simply being against a specific problem — and is part of the Ministry’s actions with regard to how adolescents and children experience the school environment. The various measures undertaken to reduce unease at school — and thus promote ease — including the focus on wellbeing, are all linked and have an influence on preventing violence between peers.
582.Presidential Decree No. 235 of 21 November 2007, which came into force on 2 January 2008, amended articles 4 and 5 of Presidential Decree No. 249 of 24 June 1998 (Charter of Male and Female Pupils).
583.These amendments give the schools greater and more far-reaching powers in dealing with the worst cases of violence and bullying. Using the proportionality principle, where the severity of the punishment is linked to the severity of the offence, new and more severe disciplinary measures can be put in place to deal with reprehensible, negative social behaviour. More specifically:
Students who commit, at school, potential criminal offences that violate human dignity and respect or endanger people can be suspended for more than 15 days
Students who commit acts noted in the paragraph above on more than one occasion, or commit particularly serious acts of violence or simply acts that cause real social alarm can be suspended until the end of lessons
For the worst cases, it is possible to preclude students from the final assessment of marks or from taking the final State exam
584.Such punishments can only be imposed once the school has checked that concrete and specific evidence exists of the student’s wrongdoing.
585.Students who commit less serious offences are dealt with according to the regulations of the specific educational establishment in question. In such cases, the previous regulations remain in force: suspension from school for no more than 15 days, reparative educational punishments that involve social or cultural activities, and, in general, are beneficial to the educational community. The latter type of punishments are also intended to be part of the punishments for the more serious cases listed above. Such reparative punishments might include cleaning classrooms or doing minor maintenance work, doing volunteer work for the school or taking specific training courses of social or cultural relevance and doing assignments (written work or art) that force the student to reconsider his/her actions.
586.Amendments have also been made to how punishments are applied to ensure, on the one hand, that student’s have the right to defence, and, on the other, that the process is sufficiently quick and streamlined.
587.The “Co-responsible Education Pact” is another new idea that has been introduced. It is between the school, families and pupils, ensuring that parents are fully involved in the process. This creates a clearer definition of the rights and responsibilities of parents towards the school and is an instrument that makes parents answer directly for their child’s behaviour when the child violates the school’s rules or the student’s Charter.
588.Finally, schools are now obliged, within the first two weeks of classes, to implement appropriate initiatives to welcome new students and to present the school curriculum, the school’s rules and the aforementioned co-responsibility pact.
589.Bullying and the various forms of violence and the use of force are also being tackled by promoting education about lawfulness.
590.In October 2006, the Ministry of Education, University and Research implemented the first National Plan for Education about Lawfulness and the Fight against the Mafia. The first step was to create, at the Ministry, the National Committee for Schools and Lawfulness, chaired by the Minister. It is made up of people from various fields linked to this issue (the chief of the State Police, the national antimafia prosecutor, the heads of the Carabinieri and of the Financial Police, various representatives of associations, teachers and children). The plan’s goals will be achieved through educational initiatives and real-life testimonies as well as through the creation of contact and collaboration networks that pool positive experiences and institutions in the areas hardest hit by crime and the mafia.
591.Staying on the issue of lawfulness, various research centres across the country are examining and documenting the issue to provide support for educational and preventive initiatives launched by schools and local communities.
592.Lawfulness is linked to the issue of education about living together in society, which looks at the school as a place where a pupil learns about being a citizen in a global society that sees diversity as a resource and a chance for critical — but not hostile — comparison. These two paths are centred around respect for social rules and living together with others (whether they be foreigners, disabled people or so on) and around understanding the phenomenon of violence. Decree Law No. 137/2008 on “Citizenship and Constitution” sets out a framework initiative related to these issues.
593.In addition, education to health, which falls under Presidential Decree No. 309/90, has been implemented, in practical terms over the years, in numerous activities involving pupils, teachers and parents.
594.Moreover, the Ministry is involved in training key people (regional and provincial) about health, placing attention on diet, smoking, alcohol and addiction.
595.As far as children’s rights to express their views and have them given due weight in all matters concerning their education, including school discipline, it is important to note that the process of decentralizing and giving greater autonomy to the school system has meant that there have been numerous different experiences and paths taken that cannot be reduced to a single national plan.
596.Legislation between 2000 and 2007 has emphasized the centrality of the pupil as a person, around which the school’s pedagogical and extra-curricula activities rotate.
597.Nationally, perhaps the most representative initiative has been the creation (through Ministerial Decree No. 79/2002) of the National Forum of Student Associations. This shows the Ministry’s intent to encourage dialogue and debate between the Ministry and student associations. The Forum, now governed by Presidential Decree No. 301/2005, is designed to increase the participation and importance of student associations by giving them a means of expression and representation that is autonomous and complementary to the institutional one. It also ensures dialogue and debate with the student world.
598.The aforementioned Youth Union Centres, which are also seen as complementary bodies to the primary educational agencies (school, family and third sector), aid the processes of growth, personal development, reorientation, inter-generational dialogue and responsible participation. Moreover, these help to build awareness and planning and decision-making skills as well as aiding the process of entering the working world and being part of society. The target group for this project is youths aged 13 to 18.
599.In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Presidential Decrees No. 249/1998 and No. 567/1996 helped to create the Charter of Male and Female Pupils and the Student Provincial Consultation Bodies.
600.Finally, the National Conference of the Presidents of the Provincial Consultation Bodies was created, initially to allow the consultation bodies to compare activities nationally and to improve the exchange of information about actions carried out on a local level.
601.In response to a request that came up on numerous occasions at this National Conference, there is a fully functioning website, which is part of the Ministry’s “Studentionline” site, for these provincial consultation bodies.
602.Over the years, the Junior town councils have become an increasingly rooted phenomenon, often coming into being thanks to central Government support through Law No. 285/1997 and with the backing of the individual Municipalities. In most cases these bodies are part of projects that involve primary schools and have a dual goal. On the one hand, these initiatives are designed to teach children about the principles of democracy and active citizenship; on the other, they encourage children to participate and be protagonists, becoming involved in the strategies for change in their communities. Involvement in such activities has a major influence on the pupils and schools involved (last two years of elementary school plus middle school), encouraging listening to children and the ability of children to develop and express their own opinions.
B.Scope of teaching, with reference to the quality of teaching
603.The guidelines entitled For a quality school that are part of the reform that came into being with Law No. 53/2003 outline the bases of the education system, placing the student-person at the centre, seeing learning as a lifelong process and focusing on contact between the worlds of school and work.
604.Decree Law No. 226/2005, to implement these reforms, talks about educating people about civil life, about the educational, cultural and professional growth of young people through the development of knowledge, leadership, personal and interpersonal skills, about learning how to use new technologies and about learning new languages.
605.In terms of quality, it also opens up the way for schools to get quality certification (UNI EN ISO 9001:2000). This process involves assessing the curriculum and the processes used to plan and actually implement the services offered by the institute.
606.As noted, the most recent school reform has reiterated many of the principles put forward in the past, but it has also introduced new elements to strengthen these principles. Once again, explicit importance is placed on seeing the pupil as a person at the centre of all teaching activities. There are also new instructions for how curricula are drawn up, basing them on skills needed for living together in society and the eight key competences for lifelong learning, which were issued by the EU (Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006).
607.The goal is to ensure that every boy and girl, by the time they are 16 (i.e. at the end of compulsory schooling), has at least the minimum skills and knowledge required for personal development and to become an active citizen who is integrated into society and the working world. This educational basis will also form the foundations for further learning and studies.
608.The key abilities of a citizen, in the Italian system, are centred on four key strategic and cultural bases (languages, mathematics, science/technology, history/social) and on cross-cutting competences (including learning to learn, knowing how to problem solve, communicate and collaborate). In carrying out programmes, importance is placed on the inter-disciplinary nature of subjects.
609.During the initial trial phase, which lasts until 2009 and has been allocated €36 million, schools are being given a chance to learn and assess the new instructions. The Ministry will then listen to suggestions, assess best practices and work to disseminate and promote these aspects. This will be done through a specifically created coordination and consultation group. From 2009/2010, the curriculum instructions will come into effect permanently following harmonization with the national instructions attached to Legislative Decree No. 59/2004.
C.Cultural, artistic and recreational activities
610.The implementation of Law No. 285/1997 has resulted in numerous projects and initiatives being financed across the country in the three years it has been in force. The actions are designed to:
Encourage a culture of play and actual play, largely through initiatives for young children that involve both the building of structured, safe, secure areas for monitored socialization — recreational centres, toy-and-game centres, playbuses — and unstructured areas, like squares for entertainment, gardens and public spaces
Encourage and reassess the leadership and autonomy of children and adolescents, through the creation of social and educational centres that have the spaces, tools and skills needed for children and adolescents to express themselves
Increase the amount of space in urban areas for children, by organizing specific events for children and by encouraging children to become involved in other activities that are designed to ‘take back’ town streets and squares
Make the most of free time in summer, which is when children have the most time for seaside and mountain breaks and summer camps
611.In terms of key national initiatives, there has been, since 2005, the celebration of World Play Day on 28 May, which is promoted in Italy by Associazione nazionale Città in gioco – GioNa (National Association for the City at Play). This association, created in 2002, brings together over 20 local administrations (Municipalities, Provinces and Mountain communities) from across Italy that have placed the right to play – in all forms – at the heart of their policies. The philosophy and spirit of this association is outlined in their Manifesto, which can be downloaded from www.ludens.it.
612.From 2000 to 2007, there were annual national meetings for the playbuses and toy-and-game centres. In 2005, in Turin, this traditional meeting took on an international dimension with the Time TO convention, hosting the 34th International Playbus Congress and the 8th National Meeting of Playbuses and Toy-and-Game Centres. Nearly 1,000 people, from across Italy and the world, took part.
613.Camina has played a key role in promoting and supporting initiatives by Local governing bodies aimed at encouraging a culture of play, free time and the rights of children to be fully involved. Camina was created in July 1999 on the basis of a pilot project by the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI).
614.In terms of activities designed to increase the use of cultural and artistic assets, potentially through school activities, it is worth noting the efforts to increase access to the State’s museums and artistic and cultural assets. Entrance to the State’s museums, monuments, galleries and archaeology sites is free for all EU nationals under 18 and over 65. Moreover, all citizens, regardless of age, enjoy free access to the State’s libraries and archives.
615.In the last decade, among the various initiatives undertaken, sometimes under the auspices of Law No. 285/1997, one of the most notable is the opening of the so-called “Musei dei bambini” (Children’s Museums). These are museums that are designed to help children gain knowledge and skills linked to the demands of childhood.
616.Some of these structures are part of a broader range of socio-educational services that are designed to increase the use of cultural and artistic assets and to carry out activities that bring people together and encourage socialization. An example of this is the Bottega dei ragazzi (Children’s Workshop) created by the Istituto degli Innocenti in Florence. This gives children a chance to play with and learn about art, familiarize themselves with new technologies for learning and, at the same time, learn about the history of children and the rights of childhood.
617.Other cases have gone the route of edutainment, which brings together culture and education with entertainment and shows.
618.Since 1998, the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities has been home to the Centre for educational services in the museum and the territory. The centre, created with the aim to build a national educational system for the cultural heritage through the coordination of territorial educational services, now offers a range of educational initiatives for various agencies and different sections of the public. On a different track, from 2000 to 2007, the centre, both directly and indirectly, was involved in initiatives for children and schools.
619.In terms of national initiatives, especially with regard to initiatives that link cultural promotion with health education, it is worth noting a project, created autonomously, called Nati per leggere (Born to read), which emphasizes that children not only have the right to be protected from diseases and violence but also from a lack of opportunities for emotional and cognitive development.
620.Finally, in terms of financing for sports and recreational activities, it is worth highlighting that, starting in 2007 with the Budget Law (Law No. 296/2006, Article 1, para. 319) has allowed parents to deduct up to 19 per cent of the costs involved in the annual fees for enrolling children in sports associations, gyms and pools. This deduction is for children aged 5 to 18, up to a maximum of €210.
621.In addition, the 2008 Budget Law (Law No. 244/2007) created a fund, managed by the Prime Minister’s Office, for the so-called “sport of citizenship”, which can be used to encourage the right to sport. In 2008, it has access to a total of €30 million, €35 million in 2009 and €40 million in 2010.
IX.Special protection measures (arts. 22, 30, 32–36, 37 (b)–(d) and 38–40)
A.Children in emergency situations
Committee recommendation No. 46 on the establishment of enough special reception centres for unaccompanied minors and related stay, assistance and respect of their rights, providing for harmonized procedures and ensuring that assisted repatriation is envisaged when it is in the best interests of the child and that a follow-up is guaranteed for those children
622.The central body responsible for deciding whether or not unaccompanied foreign children may remain in Italy is the Committee for Foreign Children. Two types of measures may be adopted: the dismissal of the case, which means authorizing all those activities aimed at integrating children into society on Italian soil; and assisted repatriation, aimed at family reunion in the country of origin. With regard to the first type of measures, it is left to the local authorities to manage and monitor the assistance given. This means that the assistance provided varies, as it must take into account, the resources of each child and those of the local authorities.
623.In Italy, unaccompanied children are almost always placed in reception communities, with only a few local authorities (such as Parma, Modena, Genoa and Bologna) opting to place the children in families belonging to the same ethnic group, trying out what is called “homocultural foster care”.
624.One of the Committee’s tasks is that of collecting and analyzing the data, as highlighted in section II.
625.Mention should also be made of the activities of cultural mediators, a figure introduced into the Juvenile Justice Services with the Circular No. 6 of 23 March 2002 “Guidelines for cultural mediators in juvenile services”. The task of cultural mediators is to facilitate communication with foreigners caught up in the justice system, as provided for by the Consolidated Text Legislative Decree 286/1998, as an example of active multicultural policies (see paragraph 628). This circular, besides including direct forms of mediation with the aim of facilitating psychological and educational assistance for foreign children, also establishes that cultural mediators must also work with the juvenile services of the Juvenile Justice Department. Their task is to engage in activities that make it possible to learn about and respect different cultures, to improve the dialogue between staff and foreign children, to help teaching staff in schools and vocational training institutions to draw up programmes that are calibrated to the specific needs of foreign children, to facilitate religious assistance and to favour their acceptance and peaceful coexistence.
626.With regard to the reception communities, it can be said that they have gradually changed in terms of both their organization and their personnel, partially as a result of the fact that the people entering these communities have changed over the last 15 years. Instead of Italian children, they are now mainly foreign children, most of whom are unaccompanied. An example of one of the changes that have taken place is the introduction of the new figure of the cultural mediator. Moreover, in addition to a general school education, there is now also vocational training and job training schemes, besides the essential Italian lessons.
627.The number of communities has increased and they have become more specialized with regard to the new type of person attending them (such as those for the victims of trafficking and exploitation), thanks also to the financing provided each year by the Central Government in accordance with the Consolidated Text 286/98 and subsequent amendments.
628.With regard to children victims of trafficking, the Government, in application of article 18 Consolidated Text published 7 calls between 2000 and 2006 for the presentation of applications from qualified bodies for government co-financing of programmes of social protection in favour of the victims of sexual exploitation. On the basis of past experience and in order to deal with the changes regarding this phenomenon, since Call No. 7 (published in 2006) the assistance that can be provided has been broadened to include other types of exploitation. This broadening of scope was made necessary not just to adapt the legal tools to the new social needs and “urgencies”, but also to implement what is contained in Law 228/2003. This law provides for assistance to victims of the crimes of being reduced to or kept in slavery or servitude and of trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour, begging or organ transplants. On the initiative of the Ministry for Rights and Equal Opportunities, based on the requests of the Inter-ministerial Commission, the legislation on this matter was therefore modified with the introduction of the new para. 6 bis of article 18 Legislative Decree 286/1998 (Decree No. 300 of 28 December 2006) in order to allow “citizens of Member States of the European Union who find themselves in a situation of serious and actual danger” to take part in the programmes contained in article 18.
629.So far 533 programmes have been co-financed throughout the Italian territory (the evaluation procedures for the projects presented in response to Call No. 8 of 20 February 2007 were only recently completed and resulted in the co-financing of 42 projects). According to the data at the Department’s disposal, between March 2000 and April/May 2007 around 13,517 victims of sexual exploitation, 938 of whom were under 18 years of age, were involved in and assisted by the programmes ex article 18.
Regional distribution of social protection programmes
Sourc e: Department of Rights and Equal Opportunities (2006) .
630.With regard to the number of children, the yearly distribution was as follows: 75 in the first year, 80 in the second, 70 in the third, 118 in the fourth, 139 in the fifth, 266 in the sixth and 190 in the seventh.
631.These figures show that although far fewer children are subjected to sexual exploitation than adults, their number has been growing. This trend is the opposite to that for adults, whose number has dropped each year.
632.As for the geographical areas of origin of these children, around 2/3 are from Eastern Europe (the Balkans and Black Sea countries), while the second most numerous group is from Africa, mainly Nigeria.
633.With regard to Eastern Europe, there has recently been a considerable increase in the number of children arriving from Romania and they now far outnumber those arriving from Moldavia and Albania, who were among the most numerous in 2000-2001.
634.There was a drop in the number of children who took part in the Seventh Annual Programme, which ended in May/June 2007, the number falling from 266 to 190.
635.This data, although extremely reliable, only describes one part of this phenomenon, namely the exploited people and the children who come into contact with the social protection services and police forces, and who decide to join the programmes of social assistance and integration. This data, for the reasons outlined above, therefore mainly concerns the victims of sexual exploitation, as no data is available yet for the victims of other types of exploitation.
636.In the specific case of the exploitation of child victims of trafficking for prostitution, there is a very real danger that these programmes may fail because of the objective difficulties presented by this phenomenon. The situation is made even more difficult by the fact that this type of exploitation is much easier for organized criminals, as has been highlighted by the operators mentioned above. This is because it is easier for prostitution rackets to intimidate and force children to do what they want because of the children’ reduced ability to defend themselves. It is also much easier for organized criminals to move children around within the same city or region.
637.Because of the difficulties involved in collecting data and information concerning the trafficking and exploitation of people, especially children, the DDPO (Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities) recently introduced a series of initiatives aimed at “pooling” the resources and activities that have been developed by the various bodies that deal with these issues.
638.This must include certain partnership initiatives carried out by Italy in projects as part of the Community Initiative Equal. One specific example is the project concerning the Observatory on Trafficking, run by a network of NGOs, and the related transnational action “Headway”.
639.One project in which the DDPO is involved is a national and European system for the monitoring of the phenomenon of trafficking and the action taken to deal with it, together with a transnational database of all the organizations involved in tackling the problem. This idea has now been put into practice. The aim is to improve the tools and best practices of those bodies tackling the problem to provide trafficked people with assistance, social integration and access to employment, in full respect of equal opportunities and their human rights.
640.The project intends to create new knowledge and monitoring tools and systems for the different forms of exploitation linked to trafficking. The idea is also to create the right tools to link all the different types and levels of bodies involved in protecting trafficked people and combating the problem, so as to be able to influence the policies and actions taken in this field. In the macro area in question, a whole series of activities aimed at creating greater public awareness about the problem of trafficking deserve mention.
641.With regard to the specific issue of the trafficking and exploitation of children, there is an initiative resulting from the collaboration that occurred during the final stage of the two-year project “Development of a child’s rights methodology to identify and support child victims of trafficking”, co-financed by the European Commission through the AGIS programme and promoted by Save the Children Italy.
642.As part of this project, a protocol was designed to identify and support child victims of trafficking in order to develop and share an innovative tool capable of helping all stakeholders identify child victims of trafficking and exploitation.
643.With regard to the right to health care, foreign children who hold a residence permit ex article 34 of the Consolidated Text 286/98 and the Ministry of Health’s Circular of 24 March 2000, are automatically registered with the National Health Service and are therefore fully entitled to all the services it offers. Foreign children who do not hold a residence permit have in any case the right, ex article 35, para. 3 of the Consolidated Text 286/98, to urgent or essential surgery and hospital care, even of a continuous nature, due to illness or injury, as well as access to preventive medicine programmes.
644.With regard to the right to education, all foreign children, even if they do not hold a residence permit, must receive schooling and have the right to be enrolled in a school. This right involves every type and level of scholastic institution. The enrolment of foreign children takes place in exactly the same way as that of Italian children, and enrolment can be done at any time during the school year. Foreign children without documents proving their age are provisionally enrolled, and may in any case receive the certificate for completing their course of study in every type and level of school (art. 45 Presidential Decree 394/99).
645.With regard to other activities, in addition to “homocultural foster care”, mention should also be made of what has been done in certain parts of the country with regard to the selection, training and activation of voluntary guardians, i.e. people with specific skills for looking after children, to follow unaccompanied foreign children, especially those who have been placed in reception communities, assist them in the most important everyday procedures, such as health care, education, vocational training and job preparation, and in obtaining all the necessary documents. This is something that has already been successfully tried out by both the regional Ombudsmen for Children (Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Marches) and certain local authorities (Florence).
646.In Italy, unlike other European States, there is no single procedure for obtaining asylum that automatically occurs when an unaccompanied foreign child is discovered and identified on Italian soil. The procedure to obtain political asylum only begins when the child officially requests asylum or when, during the first contact with the child, this is deemed necessary.
647.In all other cases, the procedure followed is that of the Committee for Foreign Children outlined above. The way in which children are then dealt with, however, varies from place to place. It should also be pointed out that certain Juvenile Courts, the competent authority for these matters before the Committee for Foreign Children was created, continue to issue the local authorities with orders to place the children in reception communities or “homocultual foster care”.
648.In 2006 and 2007, the Committee for Foreign Children did not issue any orders for assisted repatriation. It should be remembered that foreign children can only be expelled from the country for reasons of public order or the security of the State (and in these cases the expulsion order is issued by the Juvenile Courts), with the exception of the right of a child to follow a parent or guardian who has been expelled in accordance with Consolidated Text 286/98, article 19 and article 31, paragraph 4. Assisted repatriation differs from expulsion in that this is a measure that can only be used if, following enquiries in the country of origin of the child and an assessment of her/his specific situation, the Committee for Foreign Children decide that this is in the best interests of the child and guarantees her/his right to the unity of the family.
649.Under current legislation, assisted repatriation is a matter of decision for the Committee for Foreign Children and is carried out by accompanying the child until it is handed over to the family or relevant authorities in the country of origin. After repatriation, the child is offered a project for reintegration (into scholastic life, working life etc). Finally, unlike expulsion, repatriation does not result in a 10 year ban on a person returning to the country.
Children involved in armed conflicts, including their physical and psychological rehabilitation and their social reintegration
650.It was deemed necessary to deal with the topics in question together with the information concerning the application of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. Refer, therefore, to part of the report, which deals with developments concerning the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflicts.
B.Children in the legal system
Committee recommendation No. 53 on necessary measures, including through awareness-raising campaigns and adequate training of the personnel involved, periodic visits to prevent and eliminate discrimination against children of foreign origin and Roma children
651.It appears that there are no discriminatory profiles between Italian children and non-Italian children (Roma and foreign children in trouble with the law). Indeed, on the basis of an analysis of the data collected by the Statistical Office of the Department of Juvenile Justice, which covers the period 2001–2006, overall there was a drop in the number of children entering First Reception Centres, which is where foreign children stay while they wait for their arrest to be confirmed. The fall was sharpest in the most recent period in terms of both the number of people entering Juvenile Penal Institutions (or Penal Institutes for Minors) and the average number of days they spent there. There is a high percentage of under 14-year-olds without documents, who are not immediately identified on the basis of their age, among the foreigners, but not among the Italians.
652.There was an increase in the number of foreign children stopped by the judicial authorities and taken into care by the USSM (Office of the Social Services for Children) between 2001 and 2006, revealing a growing trend on the part of the judicial authorities to use the integrated system of services of the Juvenile Justice System. In particular, there was a 70 per cent increase in the number of Roma children who had committed a crime and were placed in a “probation” institution (ex Article 28, of the Presidential Decree 448/88) while for foreign children of other nationalities the increase was 112 per cent.
653.Analysing the statistical trends for the period from 2001 to 2006, there appears to be no discriminatory treatment by judges from the juvenile courts, nor by the Juvenile Justice Services. Indeed, foreign children were placed in Juvenile Penal Institutions, First Reception Centres or Communities because they generally did not have any documents proving their identity and/or did not have any reliable family members (“unaccompanied” foreigners). In the period considered, while there was an increase in the number of foreign children reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Offices (from 8,720 to 11,860, an increase of 36 per cent) and in the admissions to First Reception Centres (from 1,974 to 2,115, an increase of 7 per cent). While there was a fall in the number of non-Italians entering Juvenile Penal Institutions (from 946 to 886, a drop of 6 per cent), there was an increase in the number who were placed in communities (from 535 to 958, an increase of 79 per cent) and an increase in the number of children “taken into care” by the USSM (from 2,903 to 3,472, an increase of 20 per cent).
654.Legally speaking, the task of monitoring what happens to non-EU foreign children and of coordinating the activities of the local administrations involved has been entrusted to the Committee for Foreign Children, in accordance with article 33 of the Legislative Decree No. 286 of 1998. A corresponding body was recently set up within the Ministry of the Interior for unaccompanied children from new Member States, with the participation of various Ministries, including the Ministry of Justice.
655.In particular, in order to protect unaccompanied Romanian children or Romanian children “in difficulty”, the Central Coordination Unit was set up by Ministerial Decree on 8 October 2007 within the Ministry of the Interior following Romania’s entry into the European Union on 1 January 2007. After that date, Romanian citizens were able to move freely throughout the European Union and had to be treated differently from non-EU foreigners with regard to the relevant legislation concerning the reception system and the guaranteeing of rights. The Romanian Government took part within an international framework to provide suitable protection for unaccompanied children and jointly manage this phenomenon. There were numerous meetings and discussions between Italy and Romania to try and reduce the migratory pressure of children on Italy, and guarantee their social and civil reintegration in Romania or their integration in Italian society. As part of this framework of action, there is the intergovernmental agreement signed by Italy and Romania in June. The agreement is aimed at creating a system of collaboration between the two States in order to allow a faster, more efficient protective action in those cases in which adults who are legally entitled to take care of these children cannot be found. The aim is to guarantee the assisted repatriation of the children through collaboration and the exchange of information between the Italian and Romanian bodies responsible for these matters. The main goal is to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to protect these children and enable their social reintegration.
656.With regard to juvenile penal institutions, the magistratura di sorveglianza, a totally independent body for the Constitution, has, among its many tasks, that of ensuring that a sentence is carried out according to the principles of humanity and re-education and, in the specific case of children, is in line with the principles of the Convention. Undoubtedly, the inclusion of the figure of the cultural mediator alongside that of an educator and the other judicial and penitential figures in the Initial Reception Centres and the Juvenile Penal Institutions helps to discover any eventual reports of mistreatment or abuse.
657.The training of the staff working in the Juvenile Justice System is organized by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice decides on the general guidelines for training policy and is responsible for coordinating the scientific, technical and organizational aspects of the activities of the three training schools for staff: Roma — Casal del Marmo (Central Italy), Mantova — Castiglione delle Stiviere (Northern Italy) and Messina (Southern Italy).
658.The training is highly specialized as it is aimed at promoting operational strategies whose goal is to achieve greater efficiency in the activities involving children and the way work is organized. Special attention is paid to the links that exist with the National School for Public Administration, encouraging the participation of staff in initiatives promoted by the School. The collaboration of teaching staff from the School is also sought in the activities promoted by the Juvenile Justice Department and also merely for giving advice.
659.With regard to career juvenile judges and juvenile public prosecutors, it should be pointed out that the Consiglio superiore della magistratura (CSM – Italian Supreme Council of the Judiciary) also organizes training sessions on juvenile issues, which may also be attended by “lay”. Lay juvenile judges are experts on juvenile issues, such as child psychologists or psychiatrists, and take part in the trials and in the sentencing by the juvenile judicial authorities. These judges, who are always part of a panel, are appointed for three years and may be appointed for a maximum of a further two three-year terms. In 2007 alone, there where two training sessions in which a large number of career juvenile judges and public prosecutors took part (one was related to the topic of mediation and the other to the topic of immigration).
660.Finally, every three years new lay juvenile judges are appointed by the CSM and the various juvenile courts organize training sessions for these newly-appointed judges, which are also open to the career judges. There are also online training courses for newly appointed lay juvenile judges, organized by the Italian Juvenile and Family Judges Association (aimmf, website www.minoriefamiglia.it).
Unaccompanied foreign children caught up in the penal system
661.With regard to the issue of unaccompanied children caught up in the penal system, there is above all the problem of the identity of the child and therefore all the related problems involved in trying to create a feasible project for the child in question. In particular, reference is often made to the juvenile court orders placing children in communities as these are a valid way of achieving inclusion for children who come from socially deprived areas or families. This ensures that very few children receive custodial sentences.
662.There remains the problem however of children voluntarily abandoning these communities, especially among gypsy girls and children of Romanian nationality.
663.The task of overseeing the stay of foreign children and to coordinate the activities of the administration involved has been entrusted to the Committee for Foreign Children in accordance with article 33 of the Legislative Decree 286/1998.
664.The cost of the social assistance for those released from the initial reception centres or juvenile penal institutions, in certain areas, in accordance with article 41 of Law 286/1998 and article 2 of Law 328/2000, is met by the municipality in which the parents who are legally responsible for the child reside (whether the child is an Italian citizen or a foreign citizen registered on her/his parents’ resident permit).
C.Children in situations of exploitation, including their physical and psychological rehabilitation and their social reintegration
Committee recommendation No. 48 on a comprehensive strategy containing specific and well-targeted goals aimed at preventing and eliminating child labour
665.The problem of child labour in Italy was tackled during the period 2000–2007 by taking measures in two different directions: promoting employment and action against exploitation.
666.With regard to the former, there is the promotion of legal employment with safeguards and rights as a teenage experience that can help the growth and education of a person. This is what lies behind the attempt to bring the schooling teenagers receive closer to the world of work. Activities aimed at guiding young people in their choice of studies and eventually helping them to enter the job market, especially in the case of teenagers who have had a difficult school career or who suffer from different forms of social exclusion, can help them not just not to drop out of the educational process at an early age, but also to prepare them for a more responsible, aware approach to employment.
667.Annual data on injuries suffered in the workplace monitored by INAIL (8,474 children between 15 and 17 years of age in 2006, a drop of almost 1,000 cases since 2004, amounting to 4.8 per cent of the total population of the same age – source INAIL) reveal fairly high rates for children. The Ministry of Labour also recorded fairly high rates of children being hired in an irregular way. The latest data published by the Ministry in 2006 showed 1,713 children who had been hired illegally compared with 2,301 who had been hired legally. The most common irregularity was the failure to send the children for the regular medical examinations required by law (see the tables in the statistical appendices). This kind of irregularity among young people under 18 years of age can also be prevented by getting young people to become better aware of their rights and providing them with the necessary institutional network that helps them not just with careers guidance and technical training, but also with regard to their rights.
668.The checks carried out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security with regard to the employment of children in 2006 involved a total of 6,448 companies and 19,630 employees. The children employed by these companies accounted for 6.14 per cent of the labour force, with non-EU children making up 2 per cent.
669.The checks concerning the employment of children tend to find out whether:
The children employed may legally be hired with regard to their age – only children who have completed their compulsory education (currently 10 years) can be hired. The Ministry of Labour issued operational instructions concerning the “minimum age for employment”, which with the Budget Law 296/2007 was raised to 16.
The legislation intended to favour the complete development of children, with regard to not just their education but also their psychological and physical development, is observed.
670.In particular, when implementing the agreement reached by the Government, Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations on 23 July 1993, Parliament intervened to redefine the way apprenticeships were regulated, introducing operational procedures with regard to the right-duty to provide education and training with the involvement of trade unions and employers. Parliament also introduced legislation to safeguard children with, in addition to their regular compulsory medical examinations, a ban on children working at night, working in unhealthy or dangerous conditions, or serving alcohol.
671.In the companies inspected in 2006, there was at least one infringement with regard to these safeguards for 50 per cent of the children employed.
672.The most common infringement was the failure to carry out the regular medical examinations (about 50 per cent of the infringements) and the failure to respect working hours, rest periods and holidays (12 per cent of the infringements). In 4.6 per cent of the cases the infringement concerned the minimum age for hiring children, and in just 1 per cent of the cases did the children carry out tasks that they were not allowed to do.
673.Finally, in 29 per cent of the cases (other infringements) the infringements concerned the failure to respect regulations concerning employee paperwork (failure to inform the job centre, failure to keep employee records up-to-date, failure to provide wage packets and failure to pay employee contributions).
674.With regard to the economic sectors, the companies employing children operated primarily in commerce and the craft industry, with very few children employed in industry or agriculture, and usually then only by small companies. Experience has shown that more than 40 per cent of children are employed by small companies, with an average of 4–5 employees. It is estimated that more than 23–25 per cent of companies working in commerce employ children.
675.This was also confirmed by the inspections, where on average the firms had 4 employees. Only in Trentino Alto Adige – Bolzano, Friuli Giulia and Basilicata was the average number of employees greater than 15. The situation in Sicily, in which 57 per cent of the companies inspected were located, is rather different. These were micro firms with one employee for every two firms.
676.It should be pointed out that the percentage of children out of the total workforce increased moving from north to south, passing from 12 per cent in the North to 20 per cent in the regions of central Italy and arriving at 26 per cent in southern Italy and the islands, with some regions recording more than 30 per cent: Sardinia (39 per cent), Umbria (34 per cent) Liguria (35 per cent) and Val D’Aosta (31 per cent). With regard to the percentage of children with irregularities, the trend was the other way round with the minimum in the regions of central Italy (36 per cent) and the maximum in the north of Italy (52 per cent).
677.With regard to authorizations to work in the entertainment field, the 1603 authorizations issued in 2006 involved 11,783 children. More than 60 per cent of the authorizations (56 per cent of the children involved) were in Latium. Unfortunately, there is no data on the average age of the children, on the sectors in which they worked or on the length of their employment.
678.From this point of view, the reforms introduced by the Government in education and training since 2000 have been aimed at reducing the social exclusion of teenagers in two parallel ways. One is the broadening of the opportunities offered to remain within or in any case in contact with schools and other training agencies, which is seen as a guarantee of protection for subjects who are in some ways still unprepared for the outside world. The other is the acknowledgement of the value of practical working experience, which is promoted by offering students of all schools, and not just those traditionally considered as being vocational schools, the possibility of being involved in job placement schemes.
679.These two principles are referred to in both Law 53/2003 and Law 296/2006. Both these laws, albeit with slight differences, stressed the importance of education for young people at least until 18 years of age. They also allow for the training to be carried out, after 16 years of age, while working. In order to safeguard the right to education and training for children, their contracts contain specific references to this right.
680.One crucial issue is vocational training, which in Italy is the responsibility of the Regions and which for years has been at the centre of fierce debate about the need to create a certain homogeneity between the Regions with regard to the subject matter and curricula of existing vocational training centres. The raising of the school leaving age to 16 should postpone access to vocational training to this age. However, legislation concerning this aspect is currently being blocked.
681.The second area is the economic exploitation of children who have still not reached working age. The Government has recently been trying to resume some policies that should have been introduced during the last few years and to bring this matter to the centre of national attention. First of all, in 2006, the minimum age at which someone can work was raised to 16 (before it was 15) and the school leaving age was also raised to 16, both with Law 296/2006. This legislation is in line with what was established by the ILO Convention No. 138 of 1973, which fixes the minimum age at 15, but does not ban — indeed encourages — greater attention from the signatory States to improve the safeguards for people under 18 years of age and link access to the labour market to the school leaving age.
682.To continue the work carried out in previous years, in 2006 the Government also reintroduced negotiations between the Government, Trade Unions and Employers to combat child labour, negotiations that first took place in 1998. During the various meetings, the Ministries which had supported these negotiations (namely the Ministry for Social Solidarity and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security) took note of the comments and demands coming from the other Ministries and institutional bodies, including the employer associations and trade unions, and certain representatives of civil society, namely the NGOs which for years have taken an interest in the topic. This brought new competencies to these negotiations thanks to the presence of other experts on the topic. This resulted into the first re-writing of the Charter of Commitments, which was signed in 1998 to promote the rights of children and teenagers, and eliminate the exploitation of child labour. A number of priorities were added to the new draft, including the undertaking to set up local series of negotiations on the same topic; the paying of greater attention towards particularly vulnerable categories of children who are particularly exposed to the dangers of exploitation, such as poor, foreign children, the victims of trafficking, children who have been sentenced in the juvenile courts, especially when they are non-EU unaccompanied children or unaccompanied children from one of the new Member States, abandoned children, Roma children, or the disabled; the need for action to bring the submerged economy into the open; the undertaking to improve links with local administrations to prevent a waste of school resources; the promotion of projects for social inclusion, paying particular attention to the phenomenon of begging; the boosting of the role of schools; the promoting of the best practices of corporate social responsibility; and information and support for families.
683.During the period mentioned, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy introduced, in a global strategy, a series of actions that fall within the integrated programme against the exploitation of child labour. These were incorporated into the activities promoted together with the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre.
684.In 2004 the Centre published its Book No. 30 entitled Bambini e adolescenti che lavorano: un panorama dall’Italia all’Europa (“Children and adolescents who work: a panorama from Italy to Europe”). This publication focuses on the acquisition of data and information relating to what is happening at a European level on this issue and contains the first results of a study carried out by ISTAT on child labour. This study was completed in 2002, with the presentation of the data collected during the International Day on Child Labour on 12 June. On Child Labour Day, all the relevant Ministries organize seminars and conferences in Rome together with the ILO. The ISTAT study, which was already presented in the previous report, does not just provide an estimate as to the dimension of the phenomenon of child labour in Italy, it also outlines its causes.
685.Since 2005, the website Children and Work, promoted by the Ministry for Social Policies and managed by the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre, has been fully operational and is constantly updated. This platform contains all the most important information and news concerning children and work, both national and international. Moreover, it also provides information on the major events occurring in Italy, but also taking a look at what happens in Europe and the rest of the world. It also contains the legislation on this topic and the most up-to-date data. A variety of people use this web page, from experts in the field to employers, and also teenagers and students who just want to find out about this topic.
686.In 2006, the Italian National Childhood and Adolescence Documentation and Analysis Centre published the translation in Italian of the ILO text Combating Child Labour, A Handbook for Labour Inspectors. It was distributed at national level, especially among the regional and provincial offices of the labour inspectors, for whom these guidelines were intended. This initiative is part of a broader attempt to support the work of the labour inspectors, whose number has been increased during the last few years in order to provide a better service.
687.In 2007, the Centre published its Book No. 45 entitled Experiences and Best Practices Beyond Law 285/1997. This was the result of a survey carried out in 2006 on the planning of policies for childhood and adolescence at a local level. This survey, which was divided up into five areas, including child labour, made it possible to identify the level of awareness among local administrators with regard to this problem and also made it possible to identify some useful experiences on how young people suffering from different forms of social and family deprivation can be helped into the job market.
688.In 2007, an awareness campaign was also begun in relation to the exploitation of child labour with the promoting of the film Rosso Malpelo, produced by the Italian director Pasquale Scimeca. The Ministry for Social Solidarity helped finance the distribution of the film, promoting its viewing among numerous schools in the 15 Metropolitan Areas. The schools were then encouraged to hold meetings and debates with the students from any classes interested, allocating €100,000 for this purpose.
689.With regard to the undertakings made to the International Labour Organization, Italy ratified the ILO Convention No. 182 of 1999 on the worst forms of child labour 2000 with Law 148.
690.Since 1996, the Italian Government has been one of the main supporters of this programme. In particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finances technical cooperation projects to combat child labour in various parts of the world through the Italian Office for Development Cooperation. The Italian Government’s contribution to the ILO from 1991 to 2007 amounted to almost US $14,000,000 for child labour activities alone.
Contribution of the Italian Government to the ILO for activities concerning chil d labour 1992–2007 (US dollars)
1991 – 1994
10 223 653
1 643 952
1 339 832
13 762 439
Source: IPEC action against child labour 2006 – 2007: Progress and future priorities, ILO, Geneva, 2008 .
* These figures are provisional and may be revised.
691.Since 2007 Italy has also been one of the main financiers of “Understanding Children’s Work” UCW), a joint ILO/IPEC, UNICEF and World Bank research project aimed at improving our knowledge and understanding of child labour, thereby contributing to the drawing up of policies to combat this phenomenon and strengthening cooperation between the three institutions.
692.Moreover, Italy provides financial support for the “Programme for a global campaign against child labour”, which includes courses for journalists, staff from cooperation projects, and trade unions and employer associations, in collaboration with the ILO’s international training office in Turin.
693.The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy took part in the ILO campaign for the training of school operators against the exploitation of child labour with the publication of teaching material promoted by the project scream (an international IPEC programme against child labour). The main goal of scream is to support the rights of children through education, art and the media. Many local administrations have joined the scream campaign, promoting specific projects with schools. An important example comes from the Province of Pisa, which has set up a website on child labour. The aim of this site, which has been recognised by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, is to swap experiences with different schools in the world and increase people’s knowledge about this phenomenon.
694.The exploitation of children has also been discussed by the business community in relation to the certification of corporate social responsibility, thanks also to government initiatives. The Italian Multi-Stakeholder Forum for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR Forum), which operated until 2005, was replaced by the Inter-Ministerial Table on Corporate Social Responsibility.
695.One of the problems connected to the problem of child labour in Italy is the question of foreign children who start working before they are legally allowed to and/or are exploited. This specific target group was only partially dealt with in the ISTAT study. In particular, unaccompanied foreign children are a group at high risk of being exploited, especially if they have no contact with the local social services and therefore live an extremely marginalized existence (see section IX (A)). This topic is being examined by the relevant Ministries, which have repeated the Government’s intention to carry out a more up-to-date fact-finding study on the phenomenon of child labour.
696.Another phenomenon connected with foreign children is that of child beggars, which involves both unaccompanied foreign children and Italian children, usually of Roma or nomadic origin.
697.Many of the initiatives taken in Italy only refer to individual areas and at the moment there is no central planning. One example of local action (which has already been brought to the attention of the Committee on the Rights of the child within the Optional Protocol on trafficking and child prostitution) is the centre to combat child begging which was opened in 2003 by the Municipality of Rome.
698.From a legislative point of view, there are a number of provisions aimed at safeguarding the rights of children who work, such as the Legislative Decree of 18 August 2000, No. 262, Provisions Complementing and Amending Legislative Decree No. 345 of 4 August 1999 Concerning the Protection of Young People in the Workplace in Pursuance of article 1, paragraph 4, of Law No. 128 of 24 April 1998. This legislation governs the regular medical examinations and places limits on the work that children can do, with certain exceptions regarding practical working activities carried out as part of vocational training courses. The decree followed Circular No. 1/2000 of 5 January 2000, providing the implementation guidelines for Legislative Decree 345 of 4 August 1999, which implemented the Community directive on the safeguarding of the rights of young people at work.
699.The new legislation extends the provisions for child labour to every kind of work contract, including therefore apprenticeships, training and work contracts etc, eliminating the exemptions and exclusions that previously existed with regard to certain age groups and sectors. Some jobs which previously children were allowed to do are now forbidden. Odd jobs or short-term jobs carried out in the home or in family run businesses have been excluded from this legislation. It should be stressed that these jobs must not be “done on a regular basis”, and they must be done by people “who are not included in the organization of the family or the family business” in order to be excluded from the provisions.
700.The age limit for the hiring of children is determined by taking into consideration two requirements: their being at least 15 years of age (this was raised to 16 in 2007) and the successful completion of their compulsory schooling.
701.With regard to the exemptions from the ban on dangerous activities listed in the appendices to the law, which was introduced only for activities with a teaching purpose or part of vocational training, this exemption is also extended to apprenticeships.
702.As far as activities of a cultural, artistic or sporting nature or in advertising and entertainment are concerned, a distinction is made between “the participation of children” and their actual employment, although this distinction led to certain misunderstandings. As a result Ministerial Decree No. 218 of 27 April 2006, Regulation Concerning Rules Governing the Use of Children under 14 in Television Programmes, was introduced to provide further indications to safeguard children, whether or not they are employed with a contract for the activities they carry out.
703.As for commitments in the field of international cooperation, article 50 of Law 235 of 2002, concerning partnership agreements with non-European countries, provides financial aid and assistance in the field of employment legislation, with a specific reference to the elimination of the most serious forms of child exploitation.
704.In order to provide a more complete description of the phenomenon, the data concerning psychoactive substance abuse (heroin, cocaine, cannabis and other illegal substances) and the consumption of alcohol are provided separately.
Psychotropic substance abuse
705.The data provided comes from the Council of Europe’s ESPAD Project, in which Italy is represented by the CNR – Institute of Clinical Physiology Epidemiological Section of Pisa (the National Research Council).
706.The data is based on periodic sample surveys among school goers. The present data refers to 2006.
Consumption of heroin
707.There has been a drop (during the last 12 months) with regard to the percentage of students who take heroin, especially among males. However, there are no significant changes in the overall levels of consumption compared to the previous survey (2005).
708.With regard to male students, there was a significant drop in the number of users between 2000 and 2003 (2.9 per cent in 2000, 2.5 per cent in 2001, 1.9 per cent in 2003), followed by a period of a certain stability between 2003 and 2006 (1.8 per cent). The trend is clearer among the lower age groups: for 15-year-olds there was a drop from 2.5 per cent in 2000 to 1.5 per cent in 2003; while for 16-year-olds the drop was from 3.2 per cent in 2000 to 1.7 per cent in 2006. There is less of a change among females, with consumption remaining more or less unchanged between 2000 (2 per cent) and 2004 (1.7 per cent), and then falling significantly in 2005 (1.5 per cent) and 2006 (1.3 per cent). Analysing the distribution of the consumption of heroin over the last 12 months between the various age groups, it can be noted how the highest levels of consumption are almost exclusively among male students aged 16–18 and female students aged 16–17.
709.Of the students who stated that they had taken heroin in 2006, namely 1.6 per cent of those interviewed, 66 per cent said they had only taken the drug occasionally (1–5 times), 18 per cent had taken it 6–19 times and the remaining 16 per cent had taken it more than 20 times.
Consumption of cocaine
710.The years in which the highest levels of consumption of cocaine were recorded were 2004 (4 per cent) and 2006 (3.9 per cent).
711.The distribution of consumption within the different age and gender groups remained more or less unchanged over the years, namely the levels of consumption increase with age.
712.With regard to male students, there was a significant increase in the number of consumers until 2002 (2000 4 per cent, 2002 4,9 per cent). This percentage remained more or less stable in 2003 (4.8 per cent) and then fell until 2005 (4.4 per cent), before recording a further increase in 2006 (4.8 per cent).
713.There was also a drop in consumption among 15–19 year old female students in 2002 (2000 2.7 per cent, 2001 3.2 per cent, 2002 2.5 per cent), with the level remaining more or less unchanged in 2003 (2.4 per cent), before increasing once more in 2004 (3.2 per cent), only to fall again in 2005 (2.6 per cent). There was a further increase among female consumers in 2006 (3 per cent), almost equalling the record high of 2001.
714.The age group with the highest levels of consumption for both sexes was that of the 19-year-olds in every year of the survey, with the highest level reached in 2004 (males 10 per cent; females 5.8 per cent).
715.The age trend with regard to the consumption of cocaine is very different from that for heroin. Cocaine is clearly not just a passing phase young people go through, but is a very definite choice. The demand has not yet stabilized, increasing proportionately with age. Sixty-three per cent of the consumers of cocaine stated that they took it less than five times in 2006, while 25 per cent said they had taken it 6–20 times and 12 per cent more than 20 times.
Consumption of cannabis
716.As has already been observed with regard to the consumption of cocaine, the consumption of cannabis (over the last 12 months) also increased with the age of the students and this is true in every year in which the study has been carried out. Analysing the data, there was a general increase in the number of consumers from 2000 to 2002, rising from 25 per cent in 2000 to 27.2 per cent in 2002. The level then fell in 2003 to 25.5 per cent and to 23.8 per cent in 2005. However, it rose again in 2006 to 24.5 per cent. The highest levels of consumption among male students were in 2002 (32 per cent) and 2003 (30 per cent), and among female students in 2001 (24 per cent) and 2002 (23.3 per cent).
717.The age trend with regard to the consumption of cannabis is similar to that for alcohol. Here, too, it seems that the number of consumers reaches its peak at around 18–19 years of age, with a division then that is likely to remain stable over time: 2/5 of males and 3/10 females will continue to consume cannabis, though with a very varied pattern of consumption, and 3/5 of males and 7/10 females will remain non-consumers.
718.With regard to the students who stated that they had taken cannabis (one or more times during the last 12 months), almost half (49 per cent) stated that they had consumed it less than five times, 25 per cent more frequently (6–19 times), and 26 per cent more than 20 times.
Consumption of other illegal substances
719.As far as the consumption of other substances is concerned – hallucinogens (LSD, magic mushrooms and ketamine) and synthetic stimulants (ecstasy, other amphetamines and GHB) – this trend was first observed in 2003. In the case of the consumption of hallucinogens, the increase among male students is proportional to their age, while this increase is not so marked among the female students.
720.The years in which the highest rate of consumption of these substances was recorded were 2004 and 2006 (both 2.4 per cent): in 2004 female students recorded their highest rate (1.7 per cent) in all age groups except the 16 year olds, while in 2006 it was the male students who recorded their highest rate of consumption (3.3 per cent), due above all to the increase in consumption among 17 year olds (up from 2.6 per cent to 3.6 per cent).
Other forms of exploitation
721.Another form of exploitation of children is undoubtedly their use in begging activities. This phenomenon seems to be on the increase, partly because of the earnings that it brings in for the families of the children, but above all because of the involvement of organized crime. In addition to Roma children, children of Albanian or Romanian origin have also been involved in begging for some years now. Sometimes the children are handed over to criminal organizations by their own families and it groups then arrange for them to enter Italy. Since this phenomenon is very difficult to identify, very little is known about the actual numbers involved. Among the few official figures available are police reports in 2005 (official data of the Ministry of the Interior). 455 reports were made to the Italian police about children being used in begging activities. At a regional level, one in five reports (20 per cent) were made in Lombardy (90 reports), followed by Apulia (77 reports and 4 arrests), Sicily (48 reports) and Latium (42 reports and 2 arrests).
722.According to the data supplied by the Ministry of the Interior (Department of Public Security), the use of children in begging activities or at least the cases known about and reported to the police is on the decline. In 2004, there were 540 reports and 494 people reported (the number of people reported is not available for 2005), and in 2003, there were 570 reports and 518 people reported. In other words, the number of reports made to the police fell by 20.2 per cent during the period 2003–2005.
723.New tools to combat the exploitation of children for begging activities were provided by Law No. 228 of 11 August 2003, Measures against the trafficking of people, which amended the crime prescribed by Article 600 of the Criminal Code. This is now defined as “the placing or holding of persons in slavery or servitude”. The action taken at both the national and local level is aimed not just at repressing this crime, but above all at preventing it by promoting initiatives to prevent people from dropping out of school and to encourage the integration of children and their families who are socially marginalized. Greater attention was paid to this problem by the Supreme Court of Cassation, which, with its ruling of 11 November 2005, laid down that preventive custody may be used in the case of people who exploit children as beggars by sending them out to ask for money.
724.When Law 228/2003 came into force, a new directive was sent out on 29 December 2003 to the Chiefs of Police, updating the directive of 14 February 2003. This circular highlighted the need for the police to work together with the different institutions involved (juvenile courts, local bodies etc) within the Provincial Committees for Public Order and Security in order to determine the operational profiles for the police and the profiles linked to the social rehabilitation of these children, including the procedures for assisted repatriation, where this is possible. The Carabinieri General Headquarters, in the light of the provisions contained in Law 228/2003, sent directives to the Provincial Commands, instructing them to organize special services to combat the abandoning, exploitation and abuse of children. It also instructed them to provide periodic reports on the success of these services.
725.Another step towards integrating the various activities to combat and prevent this phenomenon, and provide assistance came from the “Pact for Security” signed by the Ministry of the Interior and the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) on 20 March 2007. This document provides the general framework of reference for similar initiatives to be taken at a local level and is a step forward compared to the State’s integrated policies with the various levels of local administrations for urban renewal and redevelopment projects to ease social malaise, and prevent and combat crime. The main protagonists with regard to the action taken are the municipalities and their local services. There is also a network of local authorities called the “Network of municipalities against the exploitation of child labour and begging”. At a national level, mention should be made of the decision by the Equal Opportunities Commission of ANCI to create a body to coordinate the action of the local authorities against trafficking at a national level. The aim is to support the important role played by local authorities in helping the victims of trafficking to free themselves from their exploitation. Trafficking is a phenomenon on the increase and now includes the most terrible forms of exploitation, from exploitation in the workplace to the various illegal activities and begging, and even the trafficking of organs.
726.A best practice in the fight against the exploitation of children for begging is the Centre in Rome for action against child begging, but there are also other initiatives. The municipality of Turin, for example, with its Area Social Services Plan has strengthened its initiatives to prevent and combat this phenomenon by establishing closer links with voluntary and third sector associations. It has also improved contacts with the other municipal services (education, youth services, services for problem areas etc), the ASL local health-care services, the prosecution services and the police. This has made it possible to begin a more global form of control of the phenomenon and also to intervene more effectively in individual cases. It has also made it possible to carry out a considerable number of activities and projects aimed at risk prevention, the rehabilitation of children in difficult situations, and the social and cultural inclusion of problem children.
727.In numerous Italian cities specific inter-institutional committees have been set up to coordinate activities, while elsewhere the topic has been included within the more general topic of the fight against the trafficking of human beings. The aim of these committees, which bring together people from the school, social, health and police sectors, is to coordinate the activities to help and protect children and adolescents who have been the victims of trafficking. Their task is also to monitor the phenomenon and provide training opportunities and refresher courses for staff. At a local level, in Rome, a special helpline was set up to help stop the exploitation of children for begging, and an information and prevention campaign was also carried out in the Roma camps and places frequented by foreigners. This was made possible thanks to the daily collaboration of the NAE (the Municipal Police Unit for the disadvantaged people), staff from the school department, local social services and the network of associations.
Sexual exploitation and trafficking
Committee recommendation No. 50 on measures to prevent and combat trafficking in children for sexual purposes, in accordance with the Declaration and Agenda for Action, and the Global Commitment adopted at the 1996 and 2001 World Congresses against Sexual Exploitation, also through cooperation
728.With regard to the analysis of the initiatives taken by the Italian Government to coordinate action at a central level, collect data and promote measures of prevention and protection, see the part of the report concerning the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Children belonging to minorities
Committee recommendation No. 55 on the development, in cooperation with Roma NGOs, comprehensive proactive policies and programmes to prevent Roma children soci al exclusion and discrimination
729.During the last few years, central and local government (the Regions and local authorities) have introduced legislation, policies and actions aimed at preventing social exclusion of, and discrimination against Roma, Sinti and Caminanti children. As was already mentioned in section II, there are no precise figures for the number of Roma children in Italy. It should be remembered that their situation varies enormously: some were born in Italy to parents with Italian citizenship, some were born in Italy to parents who do not have Italian citizenship, some were born in Italy with parents who are legally resident, some arrived in Italy accompanied by relatives but not their parents, and some arrived in Italy unaccompanied by either their parents or any other relative. Then there is the important distinction to be made between itinerant and sedentary Roma.
730.Monitoring of the Roma community was begun at a national level in 2006 (updated at the end of 2007) with the collaboration of the Prefectures, with particular reference to problems at a local level and how, if at all, these problems were resolved. This survey revealed the difficulty in obtaining official data, especially in metropolitan areas, because of this community’s tendency to move around frequently.
731.As a result, the National Observatory for Children and Adolescents placed amongst its priorities the situation of Roma children and informed the previous Government of the lines of action they believed needed to be included in the Government’s next Plan of Action.
Right to one’s identity
732.Italy protects minorities through the ratification of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, signed in Strasbourg on 1 February 1995, and through the legal recognition of historical linguistic minorities with Law No. 482 of 15 December 1999 (and Law No. 38 23 February 2001, containing specific provisions regarding the protection of the Slovene minority in Friuli Venezia Giulia).
733.With a decree on 13 October 2006, the Ministry of the Interior highlighted the cultural importance of the Roma communities, making the following proposals:
The search for safer, more dignified “micro” areas
The construction of a pleasant habitat
A broader system of care and assistance for children, and appropriate measures for their inclusion in schools
The involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises in an experimental job-training scheme
Promotional activities aimed at improving people’s knowledge of the Roma culture as a means of developing tolerance
734.The Cabinet also approved on 24 April 2007, the bill for the ratification and implementation of the European Charter of Minority and Regional Languages done in Strasbourg on November 1992.
735.The Ministry of the Interior issued a decree to identify local authorities willing to create the necessary infrastructure and facilities to host Roma communities. In this way they were able to draw up a list of the local authorities interested (51 Provinces and 130 Municipalities), as well as the sums for the loans that had been or were to be contracted to create the necessary infrastructure and facilities to host Roma communities.
736.The Ministry set out in a circular the aims and programmes for 2007 with regard to the UNRRA – Reserve Fund. These goals included the priorities and criteria for the awarding of funds for the following types of action: projects which, in pursuing the goals of social cohesion, include action aimed at improving the inclusion of immigrants in the social context, and projects which provide support for extremely poor people and the weakest groups in society, which include foreigners and nomads.
737.The Ministry of the Interior issued a decree adopting the “Charter of the values of citizenship and integration”. This Charter is based very closely on the Italian Constitution and European and international Charters on human rights. Its main purpose is to help the Ministry plan the action it intends to take, but it is also a useful tool for all those involved in immigration, religious communities, Italian citizens and above all young people, to improve their knowledge about the problems of immigration and religious freedom.
738.The Ministry of the Interior also issued a circular aimed at monitoring episodes of intolerance, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. It invites Prefects to continue and intensify their collaboration, informing the Ministry of any new episodes that can be attributed to these phenomena. It is extremely important to know the places where feelings of resentment, anger and protest are widespread and threaten to boil over into episodes of open conflict. As one of its tasks is that of drawing up strategies of prevention, the Committee behind this initiative (the Committee against Discrimination and Anti-Semitism, Department for Civil Freedoms and Immigration, Ministry of the Interior) is involved wherever there are situations of inequality of treatment for whatever reason.
739.An excellent opportunity to compare best practices in Italy and abroad was provided by the European Conference on Roma, organized by the Ministry of the Interior in collaboration with the Ministry for Social Solidarity on 22–23 January 2008. The conference was organized on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day to highlight the need not to forget the extermination of the Roma (Porrajmos) during the Second World War. During the conference there was considerable discussion about examples of “education as one of the key elements to peaceful coexistence”, “the home as support for a possible integration” and “the safeguarding of rights and respect for the rules”.
Right to a residence permit
740.The aim of Italian and European institutions is to create the conditions for full social inclusion in every country, combining the recognition of rights with respect for the rules.
741.Given the examples of intolerance, it was deemed necessary, even with regard to constitutionally guaranteed rights, to take a stance on the need to respect different cultural identities, while at the same time asking the minorities present in Italy for a serious undertaking to observe the rules of peaceful coexistence.
742.Current legislation makes no distinction between the treatment of citizens from third countries on the basis of their ethnic origin. As a result, the issuing of a residence permit to members of the Roma community or to people from countries that are not members of European Union depends on their meeting the requirements for immigrants in accordance with Legislative Decree No. 286 of 25 July 1998 (Discipline Regulating Immigration and Rules on the Status of Foreigners). This law is based on the principle of the integration of foreign citizens into society and on the recognition of their right to health care and education. Foreign Roma who are legally resident in the country enjoy all the rights to which immigrants are entitled in the current legislation, which is based on the principle of the integration of foreign citizens. Foreign citizens who have illegally entered the country or do not have a valid residence permit still have a right to urgent or essential surgery and hospital care, even of a continuous nature, due to illness or injury, as well as the right to compulsory education for their children.
743.As far as legal guarantees of EU Roma are concerned, the members of their communities who are citizens of the European Union enjoy the freedom of movement in accordance with Directive 2004/38/CE of 29 April 2004 and Legislative Decree No. 30 of 6 February 2007.
Right to citizenship
744.With regard to the possibility of foreign members of the Roma community who have been resident in Italy for several years obtaining Italian citizenship, it should be noted that the Ministry of the Interior, with Circular No. 22 of 7 November 2007, offered more favourable interpretive criteria than Article 4, c. 2 of Law 91/1992, with regard to the possibility of foreign citizens born in Italy acquiring Italian citizenship. This is to protect the children of immigrants from the danger that they suffer as a result of their parents’ failure to register their births or have their names added to their parents’ residence permit or that their parents delay doing so. The application is presented in the Municipality in which they are resident, where the relevant office will check to see whether they are legally resident and for how long they have been resident.
745.To be legally resident one must have a valid residence permit and be registered with the Municipality of residence. This circular stated that should there be a delay in the child’s name being added to the parents’ residence permit or its birth being registered, this must not prevent the child from acquiring citizenship so long as suitable documentation is provided (school certificates, medical certificates etc) to show that the child has been on Italian soil in those periods.
Right to health
746.There are three types of problems relating to the health of the Roma communities on Italian soil: one is of a socio-environmental nature, one is of a health nature and one is of a cultural nature concerning their extraneity and the difficulties they have in gaining access to health care.
747.With regards to the right to health of Roma children, the National health plan for 2006–2008 devoted special attention to the particular problems of the Roma populations. They live in unhealthy socio-environmental conditions and the improving of these conditions must be a priority. There is no official, scientifically significant and systematic data on the health conditions of the Roma and this is a critical element. It derives, on the one hand, from the difficulty in studying a people whose existence is to a certain extent characterised by its mobility and a lack of official documents, and, on the other hand, from the impossibility of having data that can be cross checked in relation to their community as a whole as this is considered by the law on privacy to be “sensitive” data and irrelevant from an administrative point of view (the administration consider any service provided as something individual, which has nothing to do with a person’s ethnic or social background).
748.First-hand reports from health workers and research focusing on certain local situations make it possible to state, however, that the health conditions of Roma children are far worse than those of the majority of the population. This is also shown by indicators such as their low birth weight, shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality rate, higher incidence of chronic diseases, and higher incidence of infective diseases such as bronchitis, intestinal infections and tonsillitis among children. Further studies need to be carried out to confirm a possible increase in congenital abnormalities and hereditary diseases. Moreover, very few children are vaccinated and there is a greater possibility, especially among the younger generations, of their being exposed to diseases, which in the past were unknown to them, such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Two new phenomena within the Roma communities are abortions, with the same women sometimes aborting more than once, and an increase in drug addiction.
749.Moreover, the clear separation between the Roma and their host communities (a result of the physical distance between the places in which they live and the city centres), the linguistic and cultural difficulties the Roma have in communicating with health workers, the prejudices and discrimination they are often victims of and, at times, their own self-exclusion, bring about their isolation and cause problems in gaining access to information. This results in a poor use of social and health-care services.
750.The right to health is, therefore, one of the aspects that has been tackled within the integrated projects aimed at generally improving the living conditions of the Roma. These improvements range from eliminating or modernising their camps to educating their children and providing them with job training. Several Regions, such as Tuscany and Campania, have been working in this direction, as have certain local health authorities (ASL) in various parts of the country. They have been trying to see how they can provide assistance and health care directly to the Roma populations who live in the area for which they are responsible.
751.The protection of one’s health is one of the principles of the Italian Constitution. As a result, everyone has a right to health care in Italy, albeit with certain differences. Roma populations with Italian citizenship have exactly the same rights as the rest of the population, while for foreign citizens the situation varies, depending on whether or not they are legally entitled to be in the country, as was laid down by Legislative Decree 286/1998. If they are legally entitled to be in the country, they have the same rights as Italians, including being registered with the National Health System; if they are not legally entitled to be in the country, they have a right to essential and urgent treatment, with special attention paid to pregnant women and children.
752.While from a legislative point of view, everything necessary has been done to suitably guarantee the health of the Roma population, in practice there are some difficulties. During the last few years, the health-care services have been organizing themselves, on the one hand, to promote certain forms of behaviour with regard to hygiene and health, and, on the other hand, to create the necessary conditions for a relationship of trust between the Roma communities and the local health-care services.
753.With regard to vaccinations, the Ministry of Health has issued specific circulars, depending on the age of the children, to check foreign vaccination certificates to see exactly what they were for in order to protect both the health of the children and the community. Regional and local authorities, the social services and health workers have introduced a series of strategies with the help of cultural mediators and voluntary associations to provide all sections of the population with vaccinations. Moreover, the Ministry has been promoting the National Prevention Plan, which provides specific funds not just for the prevention of heart disease, tumours and accidents, but also for vaccinations, indicating specific strategies to reach the at-risk groups.
754.In 2002, a vaccination campaign was carried out in all the temporary camps in the city of Rome by the Group Immigration and Health (GrIS) — Gypsy Area of Latium (a group comprising staff from the public and third sectors and volunteers that has been operating in Rome for 10 years) in an initiative entitled “Health Without Exclusion”. Since then the various members of the group (in addition to the local health authorities — (ASL), there is the Health Area of Caritas Rome, Opera Nomadi, the Community of Sant’Egidio, arci — Italian Cultural and Recreational Association and the Community of Capodarco) have continued to work with the Roma communities, showing them how to use local health-care services correctly and providing them with health education, in addition to offering training to social and health workers.
755.Another critical aspect is the sexual and reproductive health of the women. Attention is now being turned back to family planning clinics in order to offer Roma women a structure they can turn to get help and advice, and where during pregnancy and childbirth, they can already start looking after the health of the children. Roma women normally only go to hospital when it is time to give birth, without going for the various checkups during pregnancy as required by Italian law. Moreover, access to the family planning clinics should help these women tackle the problem of marriage and above all the problem of having children at an early age, with its consequences on the health of the young mothers and their children. The difficulty is in creating a contact between the communities that live in a given area and the local health-care services. The Ministry of Health is currently working on two cooperation agreements to carry out experimental projects aimed at furthering epidemiological knowledge and improving the access of Roma communities to the health-care services, especially children.
756.As this section of the population makes very little use of the health-care services, another project has been authorized aimed at experimenting with and promoting a model based on an active offer of services for these communities, which are at high risk of social exclusion. In particular, the aim is to produce information material using the right communication techniques to make it accessible to them. This material will contain both topics on health education, with particular reference to looking after children (nutrition, personal and environmental hygiene), and information on the health services. It will then be distributed in those Italian cities in which there is a large concentration of Roma. An important aspect of this project is that this health booklet will be distributed by health workers, perhaps accompanied by volunteers who can act as cultural mediators between the health workers and the Roma communities. The indirect aim of this project, therefore, is to improve the awareness of the health workers and train them to have the cultural knowledge and tools necessary to reach these communities.
757.Article 1 c. 827 of Law No. 269 of 27 December 2006 approved the financing of the National Institute for the Promotion of Health of Migrant Populations and the Prevention of Diseases of Poverty. One of the goals of this Institute is to give scientific dignity to the work being carried out in favour of migrant and marginalized populations, and to offer people in great need a form of health care that also tackles the social and economic determinants of disease.
Right to education
758.According to a survey carried out by Opera Nomadi on the education of Roma children in Italy during the 2003/04 school year, a total 12,480 Roma pupils attended school, divided up as follows: 1,585 in preschools, 6,918 in primary schools, 3,577 in middle schools and 400 in high schools. This list is not complete, however, as only the schools in which Opera Nomadi has a local section were contacted.
759.Since the 2007/08 school year, the records collected by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research regarding enrolment and school attendance will also contain a census on children belonging to the Roma community in order to have, by the beginning of the 2008/09 school year, a clearer picture of the situation.
760.There is a need, here too, to carry out a detailed study of the situation in order to have a clearer picture of the situation. Such a study must involve all the institutions and bodies which for whatever reason deal with Roma children. That is why a request was made to link all the data banks of the various Ministries and municipalities to create a single monitoring system within the relevant technical committee that deals with immigration at the Ministry of the Interior (ex Art. 2 bis Consolidated Text).
761.The Italian policies of integration are organized in a rather complex way with many different levels. At the same time, the school system is also managed at different levels. During the last few years, greater attention has been paid to school integration and this has led to changes in the legislation and also in the administering of the Italian school system. In particular, the most recent programmes make specific reference to the action against discrimination and prejudice, with the fight against Antiziganism. This fight can be won through intercultural education, which also means getting to know the history of the Roma people.
762.To complete the picture, there is a Protocol Agreement between the Ministry of Education, University and Research and Opera Nomadi, with a joint working group set up between the two bodies in November 2007. The Protocol Agreement contains many interesting proposals, such as those listed below:
The promotion of initiatives to tackle the problems of school dropouts, truancy and the failure to keep up with the studies
The training of teaching staff and school operators to make school more productive
The training of linguistic and cultural mediators, in collaboration with regional educational services and local authorities
763.The Ministry of Education, University and Research has also begun a training programme for teachers on these issues aimed at improving research into methodological and didactic questions.
X.Programmatic indications and prospects for reform
764.The previous sections refer to the actions carried out in Italy up until 31 December 2007 for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The following pages illustrate the subsequent actions implemented and also the further plans for implementation indicating the specific sections of the report to which they refer.
A.General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6)
Plan of Action for 2008–2010
765.The new 2008–2010 Plan of Action for childhood is at present being drafted.
766.In the month of October 2007 the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents approved a document containing the methodological indications for the preparation, application, monitoring and evaluation of the Plan of Action.
767.This document prioritized the following aspects:
Coordination (among the different institutions and the other social players involved)
Consultation (among the members of the Observatory)
Concerted action (such as harmonising policies, services and actions)
Joint planning (for each type of action, planning must be participatory, shared and transparent)
Joint management/shared responsibility (at both central and local level)
Participatory monitoring (evaluation of the results of actions contained in the Plan of Action for children and adolescents is not an optional activity, but is part of the plan itself)
768.In order to draw up the Plan, working groups were set up in seven thematic areas: the right to participate and the right to an environment on a children’s scale, the intergenerational pact, the fight against poverty, children towards an intercultural society, Roma, Sinti and Caminanti children, the rights protection and guarantee system, the integrated services network.
769.The working groups were required to produce a programmatic policy document, and also a summary of the specific actions planned, with the instruments that may be used and the indicators for evaluation/monitoring (of the context, resources, process and results).
Independent monitoring structures
770.On 1st August 2008 the Council of Ministers, following a proposal from the Minister for Equal opportunities, passed a bill which established the figure of the National Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents.
771.A monocratic body, appointed jointly by the two presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the ombudsman will be chosen among people of “proven professionalism and experience in the fields of child’s discomfort and of family and educational problems” and will have a four-year tenure, renewable for one more term of office.
772.The Ombudsman is required to carry out, with complete independence of judgement and evaluation, tasks promoting the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and of the other international instruments concerning the promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents, as well as the full application of the relative European and national legislation, in particular with the tasks of making proposals, providing consultation, information and listening to children.
773.In particular, the tasks include the possibility of proposing the adoption of initiatives and even legislation, to ensure the full promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
774.Among the advisory tasks we point out: the opinion on the National Action Plan for actions to Government regulations regarding children and adolescents, on the report which the Government periodically presents to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
775.Among the information tasks we stress the campaigns to create awareness and spread information about the rights of children and adolescents and the annual report to be presented before the Parliament.
776.Finally, among the listening tasks, the Ombudsman is required to guarantee suitable forms of consultation and collaboration among the subjects involved in the protection of children and adolescents, including children, family associations, with particular reference to those in the foster care and adoption sector, and also all the non-governmental organizations working in the area of protection and promotion of children’s rights.
777.The measure which is being adopted also establishes that in carrying out his duties, the Ombudsman will use all the data and information from the national Observatory on the Family, the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents and also the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography.
778.Moreover the Ombudsman, complying with the competences attributed by the Constitution to the regions, must guarantee suitable forms of cooperation with the regional ombudsmen and he will have the power to notify, officially or following notifications or claims, situations of difficulty or risk of violation of children’s rights to the competent judicial Authority.
779.In carrying out his activity, the Ombudsman may ask the public administrations for relevant information for child protection and may request access to data banks or public archives.
780.The Ombudsman may also request the competent authorities, in the forms and according to the agreed methods, to access the public institutions where children are present, and also to visit the juvenile penal institutions, after receiving authorization from the surveillance magistrate for children or from the judge in the proceedings.
Roma, Sinti and Caminanti children and adolescents
781.Managing the presence of the Roma community has been complicated by the increase in the population over an extremely short time and also owing to the structured system of sharing responsibilities between the central government and local governments with regard to social inclusion policies.
782.According to the latest estimates provided by the Opera Nomadi in May 2008, there are about 160,000 Roma, Sinti and Caminanti living in Italy; about 70,000 of them are Italian citizens, while the rest are largely citizens from the Balkans, in particular Romanians, whose numbers are constantly increasing and have now reached about 60,000. Only approximately 30 per cent of these groups can still be considered to be nomadic.
783.Situations of environmental deterioration, illegal practices and episodes of intolerance and violence have induced the Italian Government to adopt urgent measures with the aim of uniting legality and solidarity, such as for example the appointment of the prefects of Rome, Milan and Naples as deputy Commissioners (Prime Minister’s ordinances of 30 May 2008) in order to implement, as quickly as possible, the necessary forms of collaboration with the Regions, with other public institutions and with the Italian Red Cross.
784.To make the Commissioners’ actions homogeneous and to give indications about how to make a census of the settlements, the people and family units, and also to identify persons who are unable to prove their identity, in compliance with the national and international laws for the safeguard of privacy, guidelines were issued by the Ministry of the Interior on 22 July 2008. An inspection of the numbers present on Italian territory in the authorized camps and in the illegal settlements — in full compliance with the fundamental rights and laws which safeguard personal dignity and privacy, and in compliance with the EU directives and the Italian law in force (public safety laws Consolidation Act) — is carried out, for people over 14 years of age, by taking finger prints in cases where identity documents are missing and when there are no other means of identification. For children under 14 years but over 6 years of age, finger prints may be obtained only for the purpose of issuing a residence permit when requested by those who have parental authority over them (art. 4 ter of EU Regulation n. 380 of 18 April 2008 establishes that it is compulsory to obtain fingerprints from the age of 6 years), or, in case of necessity, contacting the competent Public Prosecutor at the Juvenile Court through the Investigative Police. Below this age group, fingerprints can be obtained, upon agreement between the Public Prosecutor and the Juvenile Court, only in exceptional cases of children who are in a state of neglect or who may have been the victims of a crime, considering that the children’s first right is to have an identity, in order to prevent them from falling into the criminal circuits which use this uncertainty to set up illegal trafficking and serious forms of exploitation.
785.The census is made with the maximum transparency, bearing in mind all the contributions from the various institutions such as the magistracy, in particular the Juvenile Court, from organisations like the Italian Red Cross which helps in the census-taking operations and from UNICEF. Besides, the people involved are informed of their rights and in some cases, an inspection of their documents has revealed that they possess the regular right to remain or even that they can obtain Italian citizenship.
786.The European Commission has considered that the measures adopted by the deputy commissioners are not discriminatory and are in line with European legislation.
787.Observing that the guidelines have been adopted in conformity with the indications expressed by the national Authority on the protection of personal details and by the European directives, the Commission appreciates the collaboration of the Italian Authorities with the Red Cross and UNICEF and has asked to be informed of the results of the census.
788.Awaiting completion of the census, there has been a continuation of the commitment taken at all levels of government responsibility (central government, regions and above all municipalities) to strengthen the social integration processes of the Roma populations.
789.The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies, also with the aim of providing actions to accompany the actions for the protection of public safety, has begun initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of the Roma communities and promoting their integration.
790.In particular through the Fund for Migratory Policies, which has allocated 2.4 million euro to actions in favour of the Roma people, agreements have been signed with major cities such as Naples, Rome and Reggio Calabria — in whose suburbs the presence of Roma minorities is most conspicuous — and through the Fund for the Social Inclusion of Immigrants, with an allocation of over 3.5 million euro, initiatives in favour of social inclusion have been funded, concerning the different aspects of social life and bearing in mind the needs expressed by the local communities.
791.As in the past, the resources of the EU Structural Funds are also a valid support for the implementation of inclusion policies in favour of the Roma people. In the context of the new programme for 2007–2013 measures intended for the Roma, Sinti and Caminanti are included both in the national security Programme, with the particular aim of combating situations of deviance and spreading the culture of legality also through forms of rehabilitation and reuse of public spaces, and in the Regional Plans, also through support for training and return to work.
792.Among the priorities, particular attention is dedicated to the housing marginalization phenomenon, which sometimes hinders a real integration process. Therefore over 2.6 million euro have been allocated to starting a collaboration with the local Administrations of several cities (Rome, Padua, Turin and Milan), whose suburbs have high levels of Roma minorities.
793.A specific commitment has been reserved also for spreading cultural mediation, which is crucial for furthering relations between the immigrant and the society which receives him, and above all for promoting integration in schools.
794.School participation of pupils belonging to the Roma, Sinti and Caminanti communities is certainly one of the principal Italian policy objectives. For this purpose, resources amounting to around 1 million euro have been allocated for actions promoted in Rome, Bologna, Naples, Florence and Milan, namely:
Welcome/assistance for Roma, Sinti and Caminanti pupils also using cultural mediators, to assist their positive integration and guidance into the school system, thus countering school abandonment and preventing dispersion
Involving the Roma, Sinti and Caminanti parents and families in school activities and in the scholastic guidance of the pupils
Actions to create awareness with the aim of combating discriminatory phenomena, and also of respecting diversity and for intercultural dialogue
795.Furthermore, the Ministry of Education, the University and Research, has a plan underway to promote school attendance of children, accompanied by actions in cooperation with the local Authorities, to identify areas where housing can be built for those who have the right to reside in Italy.
796.The Italian Government intends to reinforce and improve the quality of the actions, also by involving the Roma communities, in relation to the analysis of the problems and the decisions to be taken.
797.To bring about an effective inclusion process, considerable financial resources are needed: many resources have been provided by the local Authorities which will continue in this direction. A monitoring activity is also being conducted with all the other State Administrations to locate EU to be allocated to social inclusion actions in favour of the Roma communities, bearing in mind the good practice already adopted locally by certain municipalities.
B.Definition of the child (art. 1)
Recognition of the opinions of an unaccompanied foreign child in the procedure concerning his/her right to a future
798.Legislative decree No. 25 of 28 January 2008, implementing directive 2005/85/EC which contains minimum standards for the procedure applied in the Member States for the recognition and repeal of the status of refugee, in article 19 establishes as a guarantee for unaccompanied foreign children that:
The unaccompanied child who has expressed the wish to request international protection should be given the necessary assistance to present the application; the child is provided with the assistance of a guardian at every stage of the procedure for the examination of the application, as established in article 26 c. 5 of the decree
The unaccompanied child, if there are doubts with regard to his age, at any stage of the procedure, and subject to the consent of his legal representative, may be submitted to non-invasive medical-health examinations in order to ascertain his age; after the examinations, if it is not possible to exactly determine the child’s age, the lowest age is presumed, with the consequent treatment
The child must be given the necessary information concerning the possibility that his age may be determined by a medical examination, and concerning the type of examination and its consequences for the purpose of the application; however the child’s refusal to undergo a medical examination is not an impediment against accepting his application, nor against taking a decision
799.Still as a guarantee of the child’s rights, Legislative decree n. 25 of 28 January 2008 recognises the child’s right to be heard using the method of a personal interview in the presence of his guardian (art. 13, c. 3); he is guaranteed adequate information about the meaning and the eventual consequences of the personal interview.
C.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5, 9–11, 18, paras. 1 and 2; 19–21, 25, 27, para. 4; and 39)
Parental Support – financial support
Actions in favour of families in situations of economic difficulty are a priority in the social inclusion strategy for 2008–2010
800.This is translated into actions which aim to compensate the principal factors of imbalance which affect Italian families’ material living conditions, both because of the particular economic situation (the growing condition of economic difficulty of a segment of families due to the increased cost of consumer goods, concentrated in two main areas: housing and the food sector), and owing to factors which traditionally contribute to the risk of impoverishment (single mothers, large families or where there is a disability or lack of self-sufficiency).
801.The Government has moreover implemented actions aimed at reducing the impact of the factors on the segments of the population in greatest difficulty:
The housing plan provided for in Law No. 133 of 6 August 2008, converting Decree Law No. 112 of 2008 responds to the need to guarantee the essential housing requirement throughout the national territory, increasing the real estate availability by offering public residential building and introducing measures to regenerate the existing housing and implementing integrated urban requalification measures. These actions will need to bear in mind the different situations throughout the territory and are primarily intended to provide housing for low-income families (including single parent or single income family units), young, low-income couples, elderly people in disadvantaged economic and social conditions, students living away from home, people subject to eviction orders with notice to quit, regular immigrants on a low income.
Distribution of a purchase card (the so-called “social card” introduced by article 81, subparagraphs 32 et seq., of law No. 133/2008 cit.) which on the one hand enables families to use a prepaid card intended for the purchase of food or to pay domestic utility bills, and on the other, to benefit from advantageous purchase conditions which the Government intends to negotiate with the large distribution chains and food production plants. The aim is to assign to over 1.2 million beneficiaries — including children under the age of three years — a “social card” of approximately 500 euro, to be spent in stores for the purchase of staple commodities. After the first experiment (last quarter of 2008) it will be possible, already in 2009, to make an evaluation of the efficacy of this measure, to consider possible improvements and developments, in particular to ascertain the possibility for this same circuit to be used to promote access to further services in connection with national support measures (gas and electricity tariffs).
Special guarantee fund for first-time home buyers (regulated by article 13, subparagraph 3 bis, of law No. 133/2008 cit.) — which will function according to decrees that are to be issued — and which may allow access to subsidized funding for young couples and single parents with children who are first-time home buyers, giving priority to people who are not permanently employed. The fund’s endowment is 4 million euro for 2008 and 10 million for the following years. The definition of liability for this measure is under completion, but will be followed by the logic of a means test to allocate the benefit to particularly disadvantaged segments of the population, with particular reference to elderly people and children in early infancy.
802.Other measures of family income support, introduced by Law 126/2008 are those relative to the abolition of the municipal tax on first homes — ICI – an important measure considering that in Italy the percentage of first-time home owners is more than 75 per cent — and to the restructuring of loans and tax cuts on overtime. Special attention will be paid to reinforcing the local services network, intended for families and including services for people who are not self-sufficient and services in support of families with children.
Parental support – parental responsibility
803.Another priority action is aimed at creating shared, participatory paths, integrating various institutional subjects and the private social sector, which harmoniously contribute to the construction of a project benefiting children and their family units. The general aims of the plan entail actions of cooperation and joint responsibility between public and private subjects and unitary policies and services for children and adolescents, in order to enhance, reinforce and/or create resources and services for the protection of children and in particular, to respect the child’s right to grow up within his own family.
804.Difficult financial conditions can never make the institutions decide to remove the child from his/her own “affectively capable” family environment. When exceptionally and in the child’s prime interest, he is separated from his family, the child must however be inserted in a family environment suitable for the harmonious and full development of his personality. The public institutions are obliged to adopt the measures necessary for the family to carry out its role and to commit itself to assuring the child of the protection and care necessary for his well being, in consideration of the rights and duties of the parents, guardians or other persons who are legally responsible for the child. For a targeted action to prevent difficulties in families with problems and to ensure responsibility which is not bureaucratic but professional and efficacious, with services closer to the territory and to the community, the objective is to reinforce three fundamental aspects of the services:
Prevention: development of all the initiatives in support of the family in its multiple functions of care and education, so that in the face of problems and difficulties it will find competent and coordinated points of reference within the community.
Protection: counteracting various situations of difficulty, to be tackled in different ways in order to guarantee adequate economic conditions, social integration, security.
Emergency: cases connected with situations of neglect and violence that demand rapid “social first aid” intervention. Supporting this activity, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies, in partnership with the Regions and the National Committee for Foster Care Services, intends to strengthen the widespread exchange of experiences and best practice on family foster care, to train social workers and boost the development of foster care services throughout the national territory, creating awareness in civil society through a national awareness campaign (“Foster care and Solidarity”) which, as well as providing quality action, entails a significant reduction in the cost of social intervention, as well as developing real subsidiarity. The expected result is the promotion of regional networks, which will ensure continuity in the exchange of good practices and accompany the activity of the social workers and the foster care services. It is considered to be essential to set up a series of initiatives aimed at training social workers so that they will be adequately prepared for the interest and willingness of families ready to receive a child into foster care. Besides exchanging the best practices that have been developed and tested, the project contains a calendar of national, regional and local initiatives, structured so that each region may become better acquainted with its own situation and begin new initiative