In a small alleyway, just behind St. Stephan’s Cathedral, an Italian restaurant welcomes anyone with a taste for exclusive fine dining. Its owner, Roberto d’Atri, however, has a vision that goes beyond the responsibilities of his thriving restaurant. He called an organization into life that wants to change the loose legislation around child abuse in Austria. We sat down with Roberto d’Atri, the founder of Bündnis Kinderschutz Österreich (Austrian Alliance for Child Protection), to talk about the goals of the organization and the upcoming charity boxing event, that will take place on December 5th, 2021 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna, Austria.
Before we get to the interview, we would like to introduce you to our new MTG athlete, Olga Pavlina Papadatou. Olga is on the card for this event and will be representing MTG. She is a boxer from Thessaloniki, Greece and has been training since the age of 25. To the question why she is excited for this event, Olga replied, ‘As a human being and an athlete, it’s an honor that I was given this opportunity to be part of this campaign for children’s rights. It is our responsibility to make sure that our children grow up in a healthy environment of love and support.’ Her greatest inspiration does not come from a single athlete or person, but rather from all successful life changing stories. ‘It is the people,’ she says, ‘that put all the hard work, dedication, discipline, faith and their vision into daily practice, and who fail over and over again until they finally succeed and become the greatest in their chosen field.’ We are very excited to have Olga on the team and cannot wait to see her in action on December 5th. Welcome to MTG, Olga!
Alright, we promised you an exclusive interview with Roberto d’Atri. So get ready, because if you haven’t heard about this organization, you are in for some eye opening facts. Let’s go!
An Exclusive Interview with Roberto d’Atri
Tell me about the organization. How and why did it start? What is its goal?
The project was started by me and Carsten Stahl, who is a prominent German martial artist and anti-bullying coach. By creating Bündnis Kinderschutz Österreich (Austrian Alliance for Child Protection), we wanted to call attention to the appalling laws surrounding child abuse in Austria. The legal penalties are a joke. Children are practically left without a support network to help them recover. We are fighting to change the legal situation and implement maximum punishment for perpetrators. Psychological counselling for victims is severely neglected in this country and we want to make sure every child has access to trained professionals and psychologists for as long as necessary. Part of this is educating children preventively, so that they develop awareness for dangerous situations and can counteract in time.
You were talking about the law around child abuse in Austria. Tell me about this law.
Right now, if you abuse a child in Austria, you get 6 months in jail. If you damage a state-owned facility with a hammer, you get 1.5 years. It is ridiculous to get 6 months in prison for destroying a kid’s life in this way. Another big problem is that you don’t need any kind of official training to run children’s summer camps or even be a kindergarten supervisor. Imagine that after a period of only 5 years the criminal record of convicted child abusers is clean. We want this conviction to be a lifelong entry in the abuser’s criminal record.
Tell me about the charity event that you are organizing?
The charity gala on December 5th, 2021 is the first event of its kind in Austria. The most famous boxers in Austria will face each other in the ring for two rounds, two minutes each. There will be a lot of influential people there that have their hearts in the right place, who will give donations, so that we can continue our fight against pedophilia.
What is your connection to martial arts?
I am a passionate boxer and I have my own gym, called d’Atri Gym, in the first district of Vienna. The gym is a non-profit organization, that aims to help train abused children physically and mentally, to become confident and overcome anxiety.
What role can martial arts play in the development of a child?
Kids that practise martial arts are much more assertive and can set their boundaries more easily. They know how and when to use the word ‘no’ and will not accept their role as a victim. Instead, they are instilled with mental and physical strength. That’s why I think it is important to involve children in martial arts from a very young age.
What do you want the people, who have never heard of Bündnis Kinderschutz, to know?
My mission is to inform every single person in this country about the laws we have around child abuse. This topic is ignored by the media and politics. The truth is, that we live in a country where you can legally buy and own a child-sized sex doll as well as pedophilic literature. I want every Austrian to know about these laws and the many legal loopholes there are, essentially protecting sexual predators. Statistically there are 2-3 kids in every classroom, that are directly affected by some form of child abuse. We must come together and collectively fight for the protection of our children.
What can people do to support the cause?
Since we are a charity organization, we rely on donations to realize our vision. Every donation that we receive helps us pay for legal advice and the professional counselling that we provide to children. We are currently working on a children’s book that will educate people on preventive measures and will be distributed in schools across the country. If you cannot make a donation, please share this information with everyone. Don’t be silent. Let everyone know about the laws, about our mission and about our charity event. That would be a great help to us.
Thank you for your time, Roberto.
Thank you and see you on December 5th.
We are very proud as a team to be involved in a project like this one. Protecting our children means protecting our future. I for one was speechless, when I heard about the laws for the first time, but this is nothing to be silent about. We will give our support to Roberto and his team to end this ignorance and create a positive future for our children. You can educate yourself on the topic and on how you can donate at www.bündnis-kinderschutz.at . For tickets to the event, you can contact Roberto directly by phone +43 664 9276 196 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
See you all on December 5th.
Your MTG Team.