Hope For Children Introduces Innovative "Kids in Court Game" at Europol's Annual Expert Meeting
"Hope For Children" CRC Policy Center, was honored to be invited by Europol to participate in this year's Annual Expert Meeting at Europol's Headquarters in The Hague. The meeting focused on addressing all forms of criminality associated with the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Tania Masia, Coordinator of Children's House, represented Hope For Children and showcased the remarkable work of Cyprus-Barnahus, also known as the "Children's House," as well as the recently developed "Kids in Court Game."
The "Kids in Court Game" is an innovative tool created by Sheffield Hallam University in the UK in collaboration with Hope For Children. It aims to prepare children for their participation in judicial procedures, ensuring a more child-friendly justice system. The game was presented as part of Hope For Children's efforts to support vulnerable witnesses and create a safe and comfortable environment for children involved in court proceedings. Traditionally, guidelines and manuals addressing court appearances have focused on parents and officials, with limited involvement of the child directly. Recognizing this challenge, Hope For Children collaborated with Sheffield Hallam University to develop the research-driven and interactive "Kids in Court Game" (KiCGame). By incorporating elements of play, the game familiarizes children with the court environment, various actors involved, communication styles, waiting times, and potential delays. It also emphasizes the importance of understanding their rights, such as asking for clarification, taking breaks, or accessing refreshments.
The Cyprus Judicial Training School has fully embraced the concept of the "Kids in Court Game," recognizing its potential to prepare vulnerable witnesses and enhance the evaluation of children's evidence in court proceedings. The game provides a child-friendly explanation of the court procedure, empowering children to feel more confident and at ease when giving their testimony. By eliminating external stressors and fear of the unknown, the game supports the psychological and emotional preparation of child witnesses, ultimately improving the efficiency and quality of justice.
The "Kids in Court Game" is rooted in the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model, educational programs on children's court appearance, and governmental guidelines. These elements have been carefully incorporated into the game's design, following best practices in complex intervention development (O'Cathain et al., 2019). Hope For Children is currently in discussions with relevant authorities regarding the potential adoption of the "Kids in Court Game" beyond the Children's House. The organization seeks to extend the use of this valuable tool to all children participating in the justice system as vulnerable witnesses. By providing comprehensive support and empowering children with knowledge, Hope For Children aims to promote the rights and well-being of children throughout Europe.