Belgian police recorded around 3,250 reports of physical and familial child abuse last year, equating to around ten or so incidents a day.
The actual number of cases is said to be far higher, warn the experts, and only show the tip of the iceberg. Cases of psychological abuse are also on the up, Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen reported on Wednesday.
The number of reports concerning physical child abuse within families has not stopped growing over the last few years, going from 2,779 in 2012 à 3,520 last year.
The situation is most serious in regard to psychological abuse inflicted on children, both papers write. From 246 in 2012, the number of alerts has leapt by 229%, reaching 810 last year.
According to a survey conducted among 2,000 pupils by the Haute école UC Leuven-Limburg (UCLL) between 2017 and 2018, 31.3% of young people questioned said they were victims of at least one form of physical violence within their family, ranging from a little slap to more serious physical harm.
For Anne Groenen (UCLL), the increase in the number of these cases may be due to greater awareness. “Since 2016, there have been campaigns, a faster follow-up and better training for the police,” she explained. “In Flanders, centres called ‘Family Justice Centres’ (FJC) now bring together police, the courts and support services,” she added.