Following a number of allegations of severely disadvantaged children living in unacceptable conditions in the institution in Kalocsa, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary ordered an inspection of the facility, the results of which were recently published.
As hvg.hu writes, the group home has long been the subject of media attention and subsequent investigations due to reports of aggressive behaviour, involving both caretakers and kids, the run-down state of the building, and the lack of proper pedagogical work. For instance, in 2013, four children living at the home were tried for hitting a teacher over the head with a metal rod, in an attempt to steal the keys of the institution and escape. In 2014, magyarnarancs.hu published an investigative piece about the group home, in which former employees and residents spoke of their experiences, revealing some truly shocking facts. According to their accounts,
kids were routinely fed tranquilisers, and there were examples of students being taken to a prison on a “field trip” or left alone while their teachers sat drinking on a nearby sports field.
This was followed up by an inspection in 2016 which mentioned further problems, such as the fluctuation and unpreparedness of employees and the use of cigarettes as a way of controlling students, that is, confiscating them in the case of misbehaviour and offering them as an incentive to get children to cooperate.
In 2020, 24.hu published a series of articles about the group home, in which, in addition to shedding light on further violent acts (such as the nose and nipples of a student being twisted with pliers by a teacher) occurring within the walls of the institution, they also wrote about another scandal: as 444.hu had uncovered,
the priest trusted with the task of offering spiritual guidance to boys aged 10 to 18 had previously been charged with molestation,
in spite of which he was allowed to remain in his position.
The newest report, reviewed by 24.hu, describes the workforce situation of the group home as “improved”; however, it also lists several major issues:
- children’s meals are lacking in quantity and/or nutrients;
- kids are not educated according to their age, they are years behind;
- the building is overcrowded;
- aggression is made legal by the institution; furthermore, in order to become “part of the community”, new kids need to “fight their way in” while their teachers look on;
- the group home does not deal appropriately with the matter of smoking.
The summary of the report says that they have not found proof of child abuse perpetrated by a caretaker; however, in the more detailed version, there are references to possible cases: for instance, one child admitted that they had been physically hurt by an adult, while another alluded to having experienced verbal aggression. An unnamed employee stated that the abusive caretaker mentioned in previous reports was still employed by the institution.
Source: hvg.hu, magyarnarancs.hu, 444.hu, 24.hu