Guide to culture, legislation and children’s welfare in the Czech Republic
Author: Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB)
Last Updated: 18 July 2011
Publication Date: 04 February 2010One of a series of country reports providing background information about customs, childhood and legislation that will help UK social workers when working with families from different cultural backgrounds.
Customs, cultures and belief systems
The position of children within Czech society
Issues of custom or etiquette to bear in mind when working with Czech families or children
The legal framework around child welfare
Issues around adoption and international movement of children
Snapshot of migration trends
Support organisations in the UK
Further information and advice
This document forms one of a series of country reports prepared for Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) by nfpSynergy. The purpose of the reports is to provide background information about customs, childhood and legislation that will help UK social workers when dealing with families and children from different cultural backgrounds.
10.2 million (July 2011 est.)
Czech 95%, Slovak 2%, other 3%
Roman Catholic 27%, Protestant 2%, other 3%, unspecified or unaffiliated 68%
Czech 90%, Moravian 4%, Slovak 2%, other 4%
Customs, cultures and belief systems
The Czech Republic is a constitutional, multiparty parliamentary democracy with a developed economy and rich cultural heritage. The former state of Czechoslovakia emerged from over 40 years of Communist rule in 1990, and the Czech Republic attained its current form in 1993, following peaceful separation from Slovakia (the ‘velvet divorce’). In 1999 the Czech Republic joined NATO and in 2004 it became a member of the European Union.
The Czech Republic is one of the least religious countries in Europe and religion has much less influence on attitudes than in some neighbouring countries, such as Poland. Roman Catholics form the single biggest group at around a quarter of the population but, overall, two-thirds of people do not claim affiliation to any particular religion. In a 2005 survey into European values, only around a third (34%) of Czechs agreed either ‘Very much’ or ‘a little’ with the statement, ‘Religion holds an important place in my life’, lower than the nine other European countries surveyed. Another survey found that fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) believe there is a God, although 50% said they believed in ‘some sort of spirit or life force’, suggesting many people may have a spiritual dimension to their lives outside the constraints of formal religion.
Social attitudes appear to be a mix of liberal and conservative, and it is important when working with Czech families to be aware of the role of factors such as religion, age and social class in framing attitudes towards particular issues. Marriage has traditionally been important and continues to be the preferred form of family arrangement for raising children. Although the divorce rate is one of the highest in the EU, this may reflect a greater propensity to marry rather than cohabit (as the ending of cohabiting relationships which may be more common in other countries is not recorded in official statistics). Remarriage is also common, with around 40% of men and women marrying again after divorce.
The age of consent is 15 for both males and females, and for both heterosexual and homosexual activity. Same-sex relationships are generally accepted, with more than two-thirds (69%) of Czechs agreeing that ‘Homosexuality is an acceptable way of expressing one’s sexuality.’ Registered partnerships for same-sex couples were introduced in 2006 and convey many of the rights available through marriage.
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