On the occasion of the two recent convictions by the Courts of the Republic of Cyprus on May 13th, 2020 for cases of sexual abuse against children, “Hope For Children” CRC Policy Center would like to stress out again the need of the implementation of measures and practices for the prevention of similar incidents and the promotion of awareness between adults on sexual abuse issues.
Sexual abuse and exploitation against children is a heinous criminal behaviour which causes a series of unpleasant and traumatic consequences on both children and their family environment but at the same time brings emotions like anger, anxiety and disappointment among citizens.
Children’s protection and the prevention of sexual abuse against them primarily concerns adults and mainly parents and the people who belong to each child’s circle of trust. Clearly prevention is the most important choice from all of the choices we have in our hands in order to protect children. The most important players during this attempt is family and school. These institutions should provide the appropriate information and education so children can lean to protect themselves, recognize abusive behaviors and to be able to identify a good secret and a bad one since very often abuse is built on secrecy.
If the child knows that he or she can turn to their parents or teacher if he or she is experiencing abuse, then the chances to end the abuse are high. Children should be encouraged to discuss their problems without fear with a trusted adult who will believe and support them. The most important of all is that parents should teach their children from a very young age that they have the right to refuse doing anything with another person, either a minor or an adult, when they consider this is as something bad or it causes them fear or pain; and finally, they should not hesitate to speak to a parent or to someone else within their circle of trust if something that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared is happening.
This is exactly what some of those children did who were sexually abused by the two persons convicted in 14 and 7,5 years in prison. Despite the fact that in both cases many children have been involved, we must note that the children who have addresses their parents and disclosed the abuse, were very few.
Children who didn’t remain silent about the abuse, were the ones who actually protected the rest of the children apart from themselves, from the continued and almost certain escalating abuse they were experiencing from the perpetrators.
It is noted that of course the importance of the disclosure on behalf of the children is essential, but the identification of abuse and the immediate intervention remains the responsibility of adults.
At the same time, we congratulate the justice system for these convictions as well as all the professionals who were involved and undertook the investigation and the support services to the children and their families within the framework of the operation of the Children’s House. Specifically, the special investigations team of the Police, the Social Welfare Services, the Medical Services, the Mental Health Services, the Ministry of Education and the staff members of Hope For Children.
If you are suspecting that a child is experiencing sexual abuse, you can call “Hope For Children” CRC Policy Center on a 24 hour base at 1466 to receive guidance and support or send a message to the online platform www.uncrcpc.org.cy