Surveys in Cyprus show that one in four children experience some kind of sexual abuse at some stage of their lives, according the Voice Council, responsible for the implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography.
Sunday marks European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
“In Cyprus, surveys show that one in four children is experiencing some kind of sexual abuse, one in four girls and one in six boys,” an announcement from the council said. In 85 per cent of cases the offender is someone in the child’s environs.
“The most worrying, however, is that a very small number – estimated at around only 15 per cent – breaks their silence to ask for help or to make a complaint – when all research proves that direct and specialised intervention is the best way to help a victim overcome the trauma and to have a healthy development,” it added.
The Voice Council said it tries to inform and sensitizes the public, with a view to “preventing and eliminating this hideous crime”.
The announcement said that European Day underlines once again the urgent need for ratification by all countries of the Lanzarote Convention, which is the world’s most comprehensive legislative tool to tackle the phenomenon as well as the need to avoid stigmatising child victims. In Cyprus, the Lanzarote Convention has been ratified since 2015 and its effective implementation takes place through legislation, as well as through the National Strategy.
“Sexual abuse and exploitation of children has been a detrimental blow to the very foundations of our society, and the involvement of not only the state but also of civil society as a whole is indispensable for combating the phenomenon and to help develop a more general child-centered prevention policy,” the statement said.
It is also said that the protection and well-being of children was a matter for everyone in society.
The Voice Council is launching an official information campaign on the protection of children, adolescents and young people in Cyprus at a formal event on November 27.