NEWS

Hostel for troubled children

Events surrounding the disappearance of 11-year-old Alex Meshivili in Veria, along with the disturbing results of a survey by the National Social Research Center (EKKE) into juvenile crime, have shown that more attention needs to be paid to children and teenagers who become involved in crimes. By this September, a program by the Hostel for the Protection of Teenagers with Behavioral Problems will be run by the Health and Social Solidarity Ministry at the SOS Children’s Villages. «The program is for children aged 13-17 who have shown tendencies toward anti-social behavior but have not committed serious offenses,» SOS’s educational adviser Niki Avgerinou told Kathimerini. «Teenage runaways, those who have committed petty theft, in other words teenagers with behavioral problems and psychosocial difficulties.» The eight-bed hostel will be a therapeutic center. The youths will stay there for periods of 18 months to two years and receive vocational and social guidance. During their stay, they will be involved in a number of activities teaching them to use their free time constructively, such as rock climbing, excursions, music and other things that interest children, Avgerinou said. Other SOS Children’s Villages for abandoned youngsters have helped create a stable care framework that is a step toward salvation. The new hostel would have the same framework. «Since this is a therapeutic process, it is important that the children consent to staying at the hostel,» Avgerinou said. After the pilot program in Athens is completed, similar programs will be established in other towns.