Child abuse on the increase in crisis

Child abuse on the increase in crisis

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Job losses and money problems may increase child abuse in the Netherlands, doctors are saying.

The impact of the credit crisis is causing stress in many families, and parents then vent their anger on their children, according to researchers whose findings are published on Tuesday.

On average 107,200 children per year are suffering abuse, according to the most recent figures (2005) on the Justice Ministry website. That is three percent of all Dutch children below the age of 17. Most cases involve physical, emotional and educational neglect. Sexual abuse occurs in about 4,700 cases, and other forms of physical abuse in 19,000.
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Professor Rien van Ijzendoorn of Leiden University's Department of Child and Family Studies says in the Sociaal Totaal journal that the risk of child abuse is five times higher in families where one or both parents are unemployed. His findings are based on a national survey carried out in 2007.

Forecasts released on Tuesday by the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) indicate that the unemployment rate will rise to 5.5 percent this year and will affect up to 9 percent of the workforce by 2010.

In the red
Professor Van Ijzendoorn's views are shared by Emeritus Professor Heman Baartman, a specialist in the prevention of child abuse:
"The family bank account being in the red is not an immediate trigger to start whacking your children, it's not that simple. But the recession can cause an enormous rise of stress within a family."

Photo © kindermishandeling.orgPaediatric practitioner Ben Rensen adds:

"When a family is reduced to living below the poverty line, the abuse risk rises to seven times the average. When will politics stop ignoring this fact? I keep saying it: fighting poverty can help prevent misery."

Labour MP Samira Bouchibti told the Sociaal Totaal journal that the attention of MPs and ministers has been focused on the impact of the recession on industry and services for too long. She promised to draw Youth Affairs Minister André Rouvoet's attention to the effects the crisis is likely to have on families.

Rob Kievit
Radio Netherlands

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