Experts seek to curb 'national epidemic' of child abuse
Child abuse will continue to rise unless community life is strengthened and victims and their families receive adequate support say Catholic welfare experts.
The Catholic Weekly reports that Fr Chris Riley, founder of Youth Off The Streets, says that the work of police, the court system and welfare workers is not enough to stop the rise in reported cases of child abuse, which is estimated at one every 15 minutes in Australia.
"Abuse of children is done in secrecy and darkness; as more families become isolated and detached, abuse thrives," Fr Riley told the paper. "We must remember the old African saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child', is the real key to solving child abuse.
"We must foster a sense of community across our nation as police officers and welfare workers will not be able to solve the problem alone."
His comments echoed those of NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney, who told a national summit on child abuse that "there's got to be more to this than simply arresting the offenders".
Reports of child abuse have doubled in the past 10 years, with 33,000 cases now reported each year, according to Bureau of Statistics figures.
Meanwhile Frank Quinlan, executive director of Catholic Welfare Australia, agreed that the more broadly and deeply people feel connected with their community, the less likely social problems such as child abuse will arise.
He said that all forms of domestic violence and sexual assault occur across the socio-economic spectrum and to fight it involves helping people manage the stresses and concerns they face, support that the churches, through agencies such as Centacare, are well placed to provide.
"I think we are seeing an increasing trend towards individualising people; forcing them to consider their future as an individual, or even as a small nuclear family unit, and I think that does place more pressure and problems on people," he said.
Child abuse: experts seek to curb 'national epidemic' (Catholic Weekly 6/11/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Youth Off The Streets
Catholic Welfare Australia
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8 Nov 2005