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The term “child abuse”

The term “child abuse” was only recognized as a separate phenomenon in the middle of the 20th century, despite the fact that the phenomenon of child victimization is illustrated in world history ever since mythological times. History has recorded numerous cases of extreme instances of exploitation of children of all ages, both by their parents and society.

Originally, the phenomenon was described as the “Syndrome of the abused child” within the framework of pediatrics; however it was gradually recognized as a world issue that endangered the physical and psychological health, the development and even the life of children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child drafted by the United Nations (1979) and its worldwide adoption have contributed not solely to the recognition of a serious and extensive problem, but, also to an international movement in the form of a “peaceful revolution” for the confrontation and prevention of child abuse and neglect.

In 1999, the World Health Organization defined and specified the phenomenon of violence towards children as an issue related to public health. A global campaign has followed to raise awareness.

According to the World Health Organization, “Child abuse or child maltreatment includes all forms of physical or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment  or exploitation resulting in actual or potential harm in relation to the child’s life and development, within a relationship of responsibility, trust and power” (WHO, 1999).

The key elements of this definition refer to a/ the extent of child abuse or neglect b/ the potential harm, meaning not only immediate but also long-term harm c/ the quality of relationship between adult and child.

Find out here how you too can contribute to the awareness campaign.

 

Basic forms of child abuse

The basic forms of child abuse, occurring separately or in combination, are the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect or negligent treatment
  • Exploitation

The mission of ELIZA is the prevention of child abuse or neglect, the protection of children at risk and the provision of individual therapy to children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

In Greece, the extent of the problem is illustrated through statistics (data by the Child Health Institute, Becan Study 2012, etc):

  • 1 out of 2 children has been a victim of physical violence at least once
  • 1 out of 10 children has experienced an incident of sexual abuse at least once
  • Almost 3 out of 10 children (28%) are victims of neglect
  • Fewer than 1 out of 10 serious incidents is reported to social services, while 9 out of 10 remain without diagnosis, protection and treatment

Public opinion in Greece has been shaken by cases of violent incidents of child abuse, with the most recent example that of 4-year old Annie Borisova, who was abused to the point of death by her biological father in 2015. However, there are numerous cases that never go public.

It is unacceptable to lose another child, so, find out here how you too can contribute to our effort.