Abuse Figures Truly Frightening
A CHILD is abused every 13 minutes across
Australia, a new report has revealed.
The Childhood Abused study, to be released today,
reports there were 40,416 substantiated child abuse
reports in 2002-03 - a rate of one child every 13 minutes.
The study, a joint initiative of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation (AMF)
and Melbourne's La Trobe University, sought to present current data and
opinions related to child abuse in Australia.
Former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson QC said the study
demonstrated "the enormity of the problem" of child abuse and domestic violence.
"The figures collected in this paper are truly frightening," Mr Nicholson
said in his foreword to the report.
"They point to the fact that in 2003-04 there were 219,384 reports
of suspected child abuse and neglect made to state authorities.
"This amounts to one child being reported as abused or neglected
in Australia every two minutes."
More than five per cent of the population younger than 18
live with and witness domestic violence, the study found, of which
between 30 and 60 per cent also suffer some form of abuse.
An estimated one report of child abuse for every 25 children
was recorded in 2002-03.
Emotional abuse was the most common, accounting for 34 per
cent of reports, with physical abuse and neglect both at 28 per cent.
Sexual abuse accounted for 10 per cent of claims.
Mr Nicholson said the figures reflected "tragic levels" of
abuse, but warned they were still an underestimation.
"Even when notifications are made most, if not all, child
protection authorities in Australia are seriously understaffed, have
insufficient trained staff and high staff turnover which means that reports
may not be dealt with or be dealt with in an unsatisfactory manner," he said.
"This immediately calls into question the figure for cases that are
regarded as substantiated by departments as being grossly understated."
Victims of childhood abuse were at greater risk of anxiety, depression,
dissociative disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol
abuse as well as homelessness and juvenile delinquency.
AMF was founded by Walter Mikac, whose daughters Alannah and Madeline were
killed in the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.