Thousands of children are apparently being abused physically, sexually or emotionally in Greece according to new figures which were presented at an event on the occasion of International Day Against Child Abuse. Presenting this shocking data, “Smile of the Child” (To Xamogelo Tou Pediou) founder Kostas Giannakopoulos said that “it is scary that child abuse is increasing”.
According to the data presented, the National SOS Hotline for Children received 369 reports for 711 children in danger in just the first ten months of 2011. The most discouraging element, adds Giannakopoulos, is that 90 percent of these cases reported that the abusers were the parents themselves.
The problem is graver for infants and up to children of 6 years of age, who represent 42 percent. Children from 7-12 years account for 31 percent and 15 percent is the total of children from 13-18 years of age.
Even more alarming is the fact that 51 percent of these cases involves physical abuse, 41 percent neglect and abandonment, 3 percent concerns children being forced to beg for money (usually by gypsies and foreigners)), 3 percent is psychological abuse and 2 percent involves sexual abuse. This last amount is vague, since most sexual crimes against children are not reported.
Social workers say that there no help from the State and there is an increase in neglect due to financial difficulties.
The “Smile of the Child” (or the Xamogelo Tou Pediou) operates eleven foster homes in which 285 children are being curently cared for, and the National Hotline for Children SOS operating 24/7 is free, anonymous and staffed by social workers and psychologists. Nonetheless it is not enough.