Child abuse "out of control", warns youth advocate
Commenting on new statistics which show that reports of child abuse have nearly doubled since 2001, Sydney youth advocate Fr Chris Riley says that the phenomenon is "out of control" and is regarded by some as "normal behaviour".
Youth Off The Streets founder Fr Riley says that in some communities people readily look the other way on the abuse of children, according to a Catholic Weekly report.
"People don't want to get involved in notifying sexual assault of kids," he said.
"It is too dangerous as the perpetrators can be very intimidating and threatening. Kids in this country are not taken seriously and are too often marginalised by our society."
Fr Riley was commenting on Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures which show reports of child abuse have almost doubled in the past four years.
The statistics show that there were 266,745 reports of child abuse in 2005-06, up 93 per cent on the 2001-02 figures.
It also found 55,921 of those reports were substantiated, up 84 per cent on the 2001-02 figures.
Fr Riley said 90 per cent of the girls and 75 per cent of the boys who come into the care of Youth Off The Streets have been abused.
He said the long-term damage of child abuse includes drug and alcohol abuse, depression, low self esteem, regression to more childish behaviour, engagement in 'acting out' or delinquent behaviours, eating or sleeping disorders and the appearance of retardation.
Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children continue to be significantly over-represented in the child protection system, by a factor of five to seven times.
The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect believes these figures are "the tip of the iceberg" and estimates that upwards of 550,000 children are being abused or neglected every year.
Child abuse 'out of control' (Catholic Weekly, 4/2/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Youth Off the Streets
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
Experts seek to curb 'national epidemic' of child abuse (CathNews, 8/11/05)
1 Feb 2007