A total of 368 cases of suspected child abuse were referred to the ‘House of the Child’ by police and social services in the period from January 2018 to October 2019. Of these 230 cases were for 2019.
The figures were given at a press conference given by Anastasia Papadopoulou, president of ‘Foni’ — the task force set up to implement state policy on the protection of children from abuse, and Andria Neocleous of Hope for Children. They were speaking at a press conference to mark European Day for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
Neocleous said that in the majority of the cases referred to the ‘House of the Child’ there was a family connection between the suspect and the child. In the other cases although the suspect was not a family member, most knew the child and belonged to the child’s ‘circle of trust’.
Papadopoulou said figures demonstrated the need for a multi-thematic centre to deal with such incidents and to provide support to all the victims. Moreover, they show the extent of the problem and the gaps which remain as regards prevention, she added and urged all state services to implement the actions set out in the national strategy.
The ‘House of the Child’ is supported by professionals from Hope for Children, social workers and police officers as well as personnel from the mental health services, the medical services and the education ministry.
The director of Hope For Children Joseph Borghese told the press conference that the ‘House of the Child’ helps country develop the expertise required to deal with incidents of sexual abuse of children.
“Considerable emphasis is given to the continuous training of all those who are involved with the operation of the ‘House of the Child’ mainly through cooperation with experts working at similar houses abroad such as in Iceland. Hope For Children is one of the founding members of the Barnahus Network which focuses, among other, on the transfer of expertise between countries,” he said.