For Parents

The role of social worker in cases of child sexual abuse

Social assistance is a component of the national social protection system and includes social services and social benefits provided by the state with the aim of development of individual and collective capabilities that provide for social needs, increase quality of life and promote the principles of social cohesion and inclusion.

Social assistance Law 292/2011 regulates the legal framework of the national system of social services which “represents the assembly of institutional, measures and actions through which the state, represented by local and central public authorities, as well as civil society, take action to prevent, limit or eliminate temporarily or permanently the effects of situations that may lead to marginalization, social exclusion of a person, families, group or communities.”  “The national social assistance system operates in a subsidiary or, as the case may be, complementary manner to the social assistance system and consists of the social assistance benefits system and social services system.” [1]

One of the services that social assistance systems offers is child protection. This service is carried out in accordance with Law 272/2004 on the protection and promoting of the rights of the child, under which the most important objective is to respect the principle of the best interest of child. In order to determinate this, a social investigation is carried out in which certain aspects are followed up:

  • “needs for physical, psychological development, education and health, security and stability and belonging to a family;
  • The child’s opinion, depending on age and maturity;
  • The child’s history, taking into account, in particular, situations of abuse, neglect, exploitation or other form of violence against child, as well as potential risk situations that may arise in the future;
  • The ability of parents or legal guardian who will be responsible for the upbringing and care of child to meet the child’s specific needs;
  • Maintaining personal relationships with people to whom the child has developed attachment relationships.”[2]

The social investigation is carried out by a specialist, a social worker who is able to assess the living conditions and income of the family, as well as the environment in which the child lives and develops. It should be noted that this social assessment of the family is carried out in parallel with the investigation of the criminal prosecution authorities. The social worker exchanges information with the police officer and/or the case prosecutor, the purpose of this being to inform each other, not to influence or interfere with their work. Following this social worker’s assessment, the social worker proposes social services according to the problems/needs identified in family and, if necessary, establishes special protection measures for the child.

Sexual abuse from the social assistance perspective means the involvement of a child or a minor adolescent who is dependent in terms of psychosexual development in sexual activities which he or she endures being coerced by violence or seduction or which transgress social taboos related to family roles: these activities usually include physical contact with or without sexual penetration.

Child sexual abuse involves the involvement of a child in an activity carried out with the intention of producing pleasure or satisfying the needs of an adult, or of another child who, by age and development, is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power towards the victim. Involving a child in a sexual activity that they do not understand, because they lack the capacity to give informed consent, for which they are not developmentally ready, can have devastating consequences for their development.

Within the Barnahus Center, the social worker, as part of the multidisciplinary team, carries out the following activities:

  • Refer cases of sexual abuse that are reported and come to the attention of D.G.A.S.P.C. 6 for specialist intervention within the Barnahus Center;
  • It investigates in cases of children who are legally and/or factually domiciled within the administrative territorial radius of District 6 in Bucharest.
  • Holds case management meetings with other team members whenever there is a significant change in the child’s life;
  • Maintains communications with other Child Protection Directorates, depending on the case (e.g. when a case is referred by another Directorate);
  • Provides information and social counselling to the child and his/her family (non-abusing members);
  • Provides case coordination-coordination of all social work and special protection activities carried out in the best interest of the child by professionals from various public and private services/institutions;

In addition, the social worker carries out the rehabilitation and social reintegration plan following the social investigation carried out, during which he/she has gathered relevant information about the child’s current situation and the environment in which he/she works.

In order to pursue the best interest of child, it is recommended that the social worker collaborates with a psychologist or a multidisciplinary team specializing in mental health and sexual abuse in order to avoid re-traumatising and re-victimising the child victim of sexual abuse or witness of any type of violence.



[1] Law no. 292/2011 of social assistance

[2] Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child No 272/2004