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I was looking forward to hearing how these questions were handled and to meeting up with some colleagues I hadn’t seen for years.

Nagoya, Japan. Nagoya, said with the emphasis on the first syllable as in te reo and with a soft ‘g’ as in Swedish. Pronunciation is of some relevance. You will miss your subway station if you are not tuned in to the local speech pattern.

Last week I was in Nagoya at the biennial conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). It is sixteen years since we held the conference in Auckland and it has been around the globe in that time. York, England was the last one I attended, six years ago. I went to this one because I was attracted by the conference theme, which was; ‘Towards child-centred societies: learn from the past, act for the future’. Also because I was kindly sponsored by the T.O.Y. Foundation.

Nagoya is a city about the size of Melbourne. One of my first impressions was that it is a city of bikes. They lean up against shop fronts, sit in bike racks here and there and are being ridden by a miscellany of people, old people, children, people in work clothes and the fashionable. There are ‘no cycling’ signs on some of the footpaths but these seem generally to be ignored. No aggression but you learn quite quickly to look behind you before changing direction.

The subway trains in rush hour come every few minutes and are packed, but stories of near-suffocation have been greatly exaggerated. To an Aucklander the roads are unbelievably civilized. Traffic flows smoothly even in the city centre and I saw no ill-tempered behaviour.

I had picked the sessions to go to at the conference before I left Auckland. Among the questions that interested me seemingly being addressed by various of the papers. How can children in care have a voice so that their fears are heard and they are protected from harm? How can modern welfare states be made child friendly? What is the connection between child sexual abuse and suicide? How are countries rolling out their primary prevention strategies? How is children’s agency being promoted to keep themselves safe?

I was looking forward to hearing how these questions were handled and to meeting up with some colleagues I hadn’t seen for years.

XXth ISPCAN Congress, Nagoya

 
 
 
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