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Alarm over rise in child abuse cases.

CHILD abuse cases registered by a government run centre have increased by 60 per cent.

Complaints of physical, sexual and psychological abuse and "extreme negligence" at the Child Protection Centre in Gudaibiya rose from 257 in 2012 to 428 last year.

Shockingly, 87 of the victims were newborns and children under the age of five.

Another 202 involved physical abuse, 100 sexual abuse, 82 psychological abuse and 45 "extreme negligence".

It led to 277 boys and 151 girls being taken into care, according to the Social Development Ministry, which runs the centre.

However, officials played down fears child abuse cases were getting out of control.

"The increase in the number of cases registered is because of awareness and the community's trust in coming forward to deal with the problem," said a ministry statement.

The centre, which employs counsellors and specialists to help support children with psychological problems, is being forced to deal with younger victims.

"A total of 169 cases were in the age group of six to 10, followed by 161 cases between 11 and 15," said the ministry.

It also registered 11 cases where the children were in the age group 16 to 18 years.

Most of the cases involving violence were registered in the Northern Governorate, with 166 cases, followed by 86 in the Central Governorate, 80 in Southern Governorate, 70 in the Muharraq Governorate and 26 in the Capital Governorate.

Centre officials forwarded 10 severe cases to the courts and another 18 to the Public Prosecution.

It also conducted 56 lectures on child abuse prevention last year that were attended by 2,043 participants.

Meanwhile, the free National Child Helpline (998), linked to the centre, dealt with 66 cases.

"A total of 6,849 calls were received via the hotline last year that include prank calls, assistance and help from specialists," said the ministry.

It has increased the working hours of the hotline from 7.30am to 9pm from Sunday to Thursday and on public holidays.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Apr 21, 2014
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