Sex education needs to have a place in teaching as part of a broader government strategy to protect children from sexual abuse, children’s rights commissioner Despo Michaelidou said on Friday.

Marking the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse on November 18, Michaelidou noted the state has a duty in educating parents on the matter too, so they are always alert and aware of the crucial role they have in helping their children.

“Sexual abuse is one of the worst forms of violence against a child. This day is one to serve as a reminder. A reminder to society and states to protect the rights of children against sexual violence.”

The day should be commemorated as a collective effort for zero tolerance against child abuse and taking drastic measures to protect them, she added.

Measures taken should aim to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse, as well as constantly evaluate dangers leading to sexual abuse, trafficking, harassment or any other situation which may have a negative impact on a child’s physical, emotional or psychological wellbeing.

Proper sex education should offer young people information important for their age, culture and opportunities to have an informed opinion about matters which concern them.

Last week, figures revealed 1,500 sexually abused children have turned to the Children’s House under the auspices of Hope for Children since 2017. The year 2021 had the biggest recorded spike of incidents, at 481 cases.

The figures reveal that 74.7 per cent of incidents were against females, and 25.3 per cent were on males. Perpetrators were primarily men, at 74.4 per cent.