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Monday, 13 February 2012

"Guernsey Deal Properly With Child Abuse"

Reported child abuse on the rise


There has been an increase in reported child abuse in Guernsey.

The latest numbers show a near 40% leap in the number of youngsters on the child protection register.

According to experts that rise shows no sign of slowing.

In 2009, 63 children were being monitored by authorities. By 2010 that had jumped by nearly 40% to 87 children.

And although we don't yet have the figure for 2011, experts say the trend looks set to continue.
One local doctor, Dr Brian Lean, is calling on islanders to report their suspicions.

He said: "I think human nature would say turn away from it and ignore it, it can't be happening, not in Guernsey. But it does happen, and if we want to break this increasing abuse then we need everybody to contribute in helping to know how to communicate with people who can step in and help these families."

The abuse takes many forms- more than half is emotional abuse, for many it is sheer neglect, but for a small handful of children it is much more serious - physical and sexual abuse. But what do we know about the abusers?

The biggest single common factor when it comes to child abuse is parents with their own drink and drug problems. That is ahead of parents with known mental health problems, and then those with a known history of violence.

It was the case of Baby P in London, which led local authorities to look again at how they protect children.

David Hughes,Chairman of the CPC said: "The main aim for us as a Child Protection Committee is to get agencies working together and generally they do work well together in Guernsey. We're very fortunate in Guernsey and Alderney that it happens. We've got to ensure there's coordination. If you look at the various tragedies there have been elsewhere, so often it's a problem of communication, lack of coordination, agencies not working together, and that's what we need to prevent."

And it is that prevention which is now the committee's top priority.

With half the children on Guernsey's child protection register under the age of four, the lessons learnt from the case of Baby P are suddenly back on the agenda here.