Hope For Children received 421 reports of sexual abuse against children since the beginning of 2021, and 70 per cent in general know their abuser, according to data published on Thursday on the occasion of the European day for the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
In a press release, Hope For Children CRC Policy Centre said that the vast majority of instances of sexual abuse happen within a child’s cycle of trust.
When the abuser is a person the children know, admire, trust, and even love, it is very difficult for them to reveal and recover from the abuse, it added.
“Sexual exploitation and abuse against children can take place at home, at school, during extracurricular activities, out on the street and online,” the press release said, adding that according to Council of Europe research, 70 to 85 per cent of abuse comes from people a child knows and trusts, “causing long-term damage to their physical and mental health”.
Director of Hope For Children’s humanitarian division Andria Neocleous said that in 2020, 324 children were referred to the organisation’s Children’s Home service, 113 of whom were abused by a relative and 135 by an acquaintance or friend.
“This means that in over 70 per cent of cases reported in Cyprus, the victim knew their abuser”.
Hope For Children’s Children’s Home launched in 2017 with the support of the labour ministry, under the supervision and sponsorship of the social welfare service.