On 19 – 20 April 2018, the CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk held its second meeting during the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. At the meeting, the representatives discussed national and regional developments as they relate to the mandate and priorities of the group as well as the upcoming 20th anniversary of the CBSS cooperation on children at risk, which shall be celebrated during the following CBSS Presidency held by Latvia.

In this light, Ingrid Åkerman, Head of the Special Group for Children at Risk during 1999 – 2002 and Agneta Björklund, responsible from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, reflected on the beginnings of the Expert Group and shared memories about the challenges and priorities of that time: The core work at the start was building networks and working with a broad professional group. There was a strong emphasis on working with NGOs, which was key to be able to understand how the countries were working with sexually abused children. The Barnahus was on the agenda from the beginning. The two originators concluded that the work of the Expert Group looks different today as it has refined its way of working to respond to rapid changes and to work concretely with officials and professionals on all levels.

In addition to this, the members of the Expert Group were also briefed by Tina Trygg, from the National Board of Health and Welfare on the work of the National Knowledge Centre for Unaccompanied Minors in Sweden and in particular on the situation of unaccompanied girls in Sweden. Further, Ana Hagström from Karolinska Institutet presented a study regarding self-harm, suicide attempts, suicide and other mortality among unaccompanied minors showing that short asylum processes are essential for children and the rapid changes in the legal changes is problematic, even for resilient children. Moreover, the meeting was opened by Olivia Wigzell, Director General, National Board of Health and Welfare, Member of the Executive Board for WHO, Chair of the Health Committee in OECD. She thanked the group on behalf of Sweden for its important cooperation on protecting children – an issue that goes beyond borders – and informed about the key national developments and debates in Sweden.