Belgian parents abuse up since 2003

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More children are abusing their parents and grandparents in Belgium and there may be many more that go by unreported.

28 July 2008

BELGIUM - New figures from the Home Affairs Ministry suggest that there has been a big jump in the number of parents and grandparents who are being abused by their children.

In 2006, 1,058 cases were reported to the authorities as compared to 824 cases reported in 2003.

MP Guido De Padt, who is investigating the matter, says that often violent abuse by children goes unrecorded.

De Padt told the VRT that the official figures were only the tip of the iceberg.

Parent abuse is still a taboo in Belgium. Parents are wary of reporting their children to the police because they feel guilty about doing this.

De Padt insists that this form of abuse needs greater attention because in many cases the abuse is severe.

The figures from the Home Affairs Department do not list the age of the victims, but most of the abused parents and grandparents are thought to be elderly.

Public prosecutors do not keep track of victims' age.

Support centre "surprised"
The Flemish Support Centre for Parental Abuse says it's surprised by the national figures.  Many cases reported to the centre do not lead to an official complaint.

The centre's Gerd Callewaert told Het Nieuwsblad that many parents prefer to be hit twice a week than not to see their offspring at all.

In 2007, 516 cases of abuse of seniors were reported to the unit.

In half of these cases children were the culprits.  Other relatives are also abusers, but it's only in exceptional circumstances that care workers like nurses or home helps are to blame.

The centre links rising figures to the aging of the population and greater familiarity with its services.

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