THE home should be the safest place for a child, especially when the coronavirus emergency forces everyone to stay indoors, but the enforced confinement in Spain looks as though it is pushing up child abuse cases.
The ANAR Foundation which helps children and adolescents has reported 173 cases of serious violence against minors over the last week, and has extended its chat and email service allowing children to ask for help without being heard.
The foundation said it had received 270 requests for assistance between March 23 and 30. Of these, 40 per cent related to situations of violence.
Physical violence within the family accounted for 12.7 per cent of the cases and 6.9 per cent psychological abuse.
“They are suffering more violence and lack of protection than ever,” ANAR commented.
The foundation also highlighted as especially serious that 3.5 per cent of the cases were sexual abuse in situations where “minors cannot escape from their aggressors.”
“We see day by day that the percentage of violence is increasing, and as the days of confinement are going by, more tension and pressure within homes,” ANAR Programme director Benjamin Ballesteros told Spanish media.
According to Ballesteros while the “frustration” of being trapped indoors is normal among the population, there are those who “transform the frustration into aggression and it is taken out on people around them.”
A further influencing factor is physical space. This means that as people on lower incomes are more likely to live in smaller homes there could be greater tensions, Ballesteros pointed out.
He also highlighted the number of calls from youngsters related to psychological problems, about 27.7 per cent of the total, when for 2018 the proportion was less than 10 per cent.
He said contacts on matters like anxiety, suicidal ideas, a fear of loneliness and eating disorders had all gone up.
Thoughts of suicide accounted for 5.8 per cent of the calls, compared with just 1.9 per cent of total calls in 2018.
“Children and adolescents who suffer violence are going through this time with a great hopelessness and they can’t escape from it, hence they see suicide as the only way out, and all this can aggravate other psychological problems due to confinement,” Ballesteros explained.
Other problems reported by teenager and children included cyberbullying and assaults by neighbours.