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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 causing injury.
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.

AAP (10-9-2004)
Tamara Glumac

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