Abused- Child Attacks Outlined To Raise Awareness
A CHILD made to watch while a pet cat cooked in a microwave
and other young children burned with cigarette butts were
among a series of horrifying cases reported to central
Victorian child-protection authorities during
the past year.
The Department of Human Services outlined some
documented cases of child abuse and a number of
related statistics yesterday as part of National
Child Protection Week.
The figures revealed that 2909 child protection
notifications were received in the Loddon Mallee
region during 2003-2004.
These consisted of phone calls from professionals
and the public - the majority of which expressed
genuine concern about the welfare of children. ntsa
The figures and documented descriptions of child abuse,
have been released in a bid to increase public awareness
during National Child Protection Week. nteIn a bid to
raise public awareness, the region's welfare workers
yesterday spoke of the devastating impact of child abuse.
Additional horror stories of child abuse in central
Victoria included: Suspected cases of shaken baby
syndrome and babies with broken bones; and Children
seeing their mothers repeatedly bashed and knocked
unconscious against walls. In a recent case, authorities
discovered an infant with multiple broken bones. The child's
mother will front the Bendigo Magistrates Court later this
year on charges of neglect causing serious injury and recklessly
In June, the Bendigo Magistrates Court was told of a case in
which a 13-year-old boy was dragged through a
house, kicked, punched, grabbed by the hair and pushed into a wall.
The boy was also thrown on top of a nine-month-old baby, verbally
abused and grabbed by the throat. His six-year-old sister was also
grabbed by the arm, flung into the front yard and later had to
watch her brother's treatment.
In the past year, Bendigo's Annie North women's refuge and
domestic violence service have provided support to 180 victims
of child abuse - most younger than five. Manager Julie Oberin
said workers had seen children with horrific bruising, broken
bones and suspected cases of shaken baby syndrome. "We've seen
cases of children who have been raped, physically beaten and burned
with cigarette butts," she said. "Some babies are so stressed, stiff
and scared they can't even relax in your arms.
"It just breaks your heart." Ms Oberin said many children were also
subjected to psychological and emotional abuse, including having to
watch their pets being tortured or killed. "There seem to be attitudes
in the community that children aren't victims of abuse unless they
are hit - that is so wrong," she said.
"Until we see that (attitude) changed, we are going to see a whole
lot of emotional and psychological damage done to children
growing up."Centre Against Sexual Assault manager for the Loddon
Mallee region Judy Flanagan said child abuse could result in
lowered self-esteem, difficulty trusting others and relationship
difficulties in the future. "Often the emotional abuse is
the most damaging," she said.
"There are the verbal put-downs, labelling kids and just
giving them the general message that they don't count."Ms Flanagan
said a high percentage of child abuse cases involved offenders
who were family members.
"Most of it is happening behind closed doors and it's someone with
whom the child has a trusted relationship," she said.