Reported incidents of sexual abuse of minors are on the rise, MPs heard on Monday.
In 2015, 220 cases were filed involving abuse of children, of which 80 cases concerned sexual abuse. Similar figures were recorded in 2016.
In relation to the situation online, 18 children were asked to exchange explicit images in 2014, 20 children in 2015, and 26 children last year.
The House human rights committee was reviewing progress in the implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography – the basic text policy which directs the actions and initiatives of authorities.
MPs heard that the Child Safe House – an objective set long ago by advocates – would be established and begin operating within 2017.
The safe house will be operated by the Hope for Children NGO. Premises have been allocated in Nicosia following a donation from a private association.
The Child Safe House is to accommodate all the necessary services to the child and its family, all provided by trained professionals.
The purpose and function of the Child Safe House is to hasten the procedures, shortening the period between the time of the termination of the abuse and the effective treatment of the cases.
Deputies said that the creation of the safe house, and the protection it would afford to victims, would lead to more incidents being reported than is currently the case.
Disy MP and chair of the House human rights committee Stella Kyriakidou said greater emphasis should be placed on prevention rather than on just criminal prosecution after the fact.
Prevention involves educating and raising awareness among minors and parents, she added.
Kyriakidou also appealed to parents to stop uploading pictures of their children on social media.