It's Time To Face Up To Child Abuse

4 September 2017





One quarter (25%) of people in Australia believe someone they know has been a victim of child abuse or neglect, new research reveals.

The research carried out by Act for Kids found that while almost half (42%) of those surveyed believe that everyone is accountable to protect our children, one in ten confess to ignoring a potential abuse situation and not doing anything.

The child protection authorities received 355,935 reports of child abuse or neglect in 2015-2016[1]. Over the last five years, the number of children who were subjects of child abuse or neglect has increased by 21%[2], that’s one child suffering abuse or neglect every 12 minutes[3].

While 92% of Australians do not believe the public does enough to intervene and protect children from abuse or neglect, 1 in 4 (27%) are not confident they could spot the signs of abuse and almost half (41%) admitted they would need to search online to learn how to report suspected abuse.

Dr Neil Carrington, Act for Kids CEO says, “The research findings really highlight the lack of knowledge that some Australians have around the topic of child abuse and neglect. The fact that one in four Aussies aren’t confident that they could identify the signs of child abuse is quite worrying.”

“It really highlights the need for more education, not just for our kids, but also for adults to be able to identify the signs of child abuse and neglect and know what to do in that situation.”

Sascha Chandler, National Ambassador for Act for Kids fell victim to a serial paedophile at school. Sascha initiated a criminal investigation and prosecution which lasted seven long years and culminated in the conviction of Andrew McIntosh, who was sentenced to 32 years imprisonment.

 Chandler says, “It’s devastating to know that there are still so many children being let down by the people in their lives. As a parent, I would do anything to keep my kids safe and it’s hard to accept that there are children in Australia living each day in fear.”

“I survived my abuse, but at the same time I lost so much. I wish I had known what I do now. I could have told someone and I would have been believed. I still feel to this day that if I had been in one of the protective behaviour programs now available it would have made a difference. Prevention is so much better than cure and at the heart of prevention is education.”

Chandler believes that adults need to educate themselves on the signs of abuse, “More importantly, when our kids confide in us – we need to listen and take action. For our kids, teaching them protective behaviours, so they understand the concept of consent and also what to do if someone invades their personal space.”

Dr Carrington says, “Every single person in a child’s life is responsible for their wellbeing, from their parents, to their teachers, to their next door neighbours. It’s time to stop tip toeing around the subject and understand that protecting children is EVERYONE’S business.”

“We need to be educating our children to understand consent and that they are the boss of their bodies, and who they can tell if they are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable with something that is happening to them.”

 “If people believe that there is a child in their life that may be suffering from abuse or neglect, reach out to their family. Ask them if they’re doing okay and offer your support or assistance in getting them back on track. However, if you feel a child may be in immediate danger, it’s recommended that you contact your local police.”

To coincide with Child Protection Week (3rd – 9th September 2017), Act for Kids is calling for adults to face up to child abuse and neglect by educating themselves on how to spot the signs of child abuse and how to report abuse or neglect.

[1] http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129558819

[2] Increase from 37,781 in 2011-12 to 45,714 in 2015-16

[3] http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129558819