THE number of suspected child abuse reported to police by Alicante’s health departments has risen by 87 per cent in two years.
Official government statistics show that in the last year, medical personnel in the province alerted the authorities to 270 occasions where they were concerned there may have been mistreatment of children in their homes.
In 2016 there were 233 referrals and in 2015, staff reported 198 suspected incidents.
Vice president of the health council, Monica Oltra, said that this is just an indicator of a bigger problem, adding that ‘child maltreatment remains a hidden reality’ and that the ‘real number of children who suffer abuse in their homes remains unknown’.
The Ministry of Education does not have a breakdown of statistics to show how many referrals made by concerned teachers.
And while the Department of Equality does not have figures relating to the number of children who have been taken away from their parents because of abuse, it confirmed girls under five are most at risk.
A report in 2017 showed there were more cases of abuse against girls than boys, that most incidents occur in towns and cities, and half of the victims come from families who are not at social risk.
A spokesperson for the province of the Spanish Association of Paediatrics said that when health personnel are confronted with an obvious case of ill-treatment, a child with bruises or broken bones, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police are immediately notified.
Parents’ guardianship is automatically withdrawn to safeguard the child.
With regards to a suspicion of mistreatment which is due to negligence, medical staff contact the health centre’s social worker, who then transfers the case to social services.
Last week we reported the case of a two-year-old who allegedly died at the hands of his mother’s partner and a 15-year-old baby who was found to have cocaine and cannabis his system.