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Tragedies of Minors Through Numbers

Theodora Nicolaou, 
“ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ” Newspaper, 17/11/2017

 

Shocking stories under the public light: from 16 year – old girls using drugs, to 8 year – old boys reporting they have been stabbed by their parents – Since 2012 until the end of 2016, the number of minor’s victims of violence indicences rises to a total of 895.

One can describe the least as alarming the cases of minors concerning violence and neglect, or drug use. Just in one day two new cases concerning children came into publicity: a case about a 16 year – old girl using drugs, who was found collapsed at Ledras Street in Nicosia and another, of an 8 year – old boy who reported being stabbed by his own mother. In addition, new information became public about the newborn that was found abandoned by his mother outside of the old hospital’s area in Limasol, since the court decided to assign temporarily custody to a foster family. According the Police’s statistics between 2012 until the end of 2016, the number of minor victims of domestic violence, by either physical or emotional abuse, rise to a total of 895.

All this coincided with the anniversary event organizes with the occasion of the World Children’s Rights Day, which is celebrated on the 20th of November. Unroftunately, however, these three cases are not unprecedented since, according to the Police statistics between 2012 to the end of 2016, minors who have been victims of violence, whether physically or mentally, account for a total of 895.

THE 8 – YEAR OLD. The first serious case that saw yesterday’s publicity is being investigated by the Limassol Criminal Investigation Department and concerns the denunciation of an eight-year-old boy. According to the complaint, his 38-year-old mother allegedly stabbed him last Monday. As reported by police sources, the minor reported the incident to the Headmaster of the elementary school where he attends, who in turn informed the competent authorities. The student was examined by a coroner, who found that he had two wounds on the neck and two wounds on the foot, deliberately caused by a sharp object. The authorities received a record on video from the minor in the presence of a Social Welfare Officer, while under the supervision and protection of the Department’s officers. In her statement to the investigators of the case, the mother made several claims, including that the knife fell from her hands while trying to put it in the sink. She was accused and will be summoned later. 

AND THE 16 YEAR – OLD. The second, also shocking, case concerns a 16-year-old girl who was detected in Ledra Street on Wednesday after drug use and transferred to First Aid and Accident Department. She is an underage child who has been housed in childcare homes or foster families since her early years, and she has been housed at the Young Women’s House for the last year and a half. Yet the young woman succeedes and escapes. Last Saturday, the 16-year-old left the Home and was located after police intervened on Tuesday, for her to leave on Wednesday again. The minor, having been discharged from the First Aid Department, was taken back to the Young Women’s Home.

LACK OF INFRASTRACTURE. The issue has opened Aeolus’s bag around the lack of state infrastructure to support juvenile drug addicts, and even the President of the Republic, Nicos Anastasiadis, stressed the need for a comprehensive response to the needs of substance – dependent and to form structures, which has already been located, by the State. President Anastasiades, speaking yesterday at the anniversary even on Wold Children’s Rights Day, titled “Identity: A load or a Right?”, expressed his shock about the cases involving minors. Referring to the measures taken by the government, he referred to the establishment of a safe nursing center at Nicosia General Hospital for juvenile offenders, including minors who use drugs. At the same time, he recalled that the Council of Ministers has recently adopted a legislative framework that will allow the Ministry of Health to establish and operate a hostel for juvenile drug – dependent, staffed by experienced professionals, providing comprehensive support, guidance and protection to these vulnerable children.

COMMISIONER’S SUGGESTION. For her part, Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Leda Koursoumpa, referring to the question of the lack of structures for juvenile drug – users, said that her office has for years suggested a closed structure where children, on the basis of their protection and safeguarding of their interest can be a mandatory commitment to the hospital. Being asked “where they met obstacles”,  she said there were disagreements between the responsible officers, explaining that the opinion of Mental Health Services officials is that this can not be made mandatory and do not provide any solution or answer.

GOVERNMENT MEASURES. Regarding child rights in general, President Anastasiades made a special reference yesterday on the development of the National Health Strategy for the Rights of the Child, the ratification of the Council of Europe’s Lazarote Convention, and the preparation of the National Strategy for the Rights of the Child. protecting children from sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and child pornography. Furthermore, he referred to the establishment of the House of the Child while he spoke about eight legislation plans for the modernization of Family Law concerning children, which are before the Legal Service for legal control and for the preparation of the law establishing a system of criminal justice friendly to children who are in conflict with the Law.

COMPLAINTS OF MINORS RISE EVERY YEAR.

There is an increasing trend over time of the incidents of domestic violence in Cyprus with the victims being juvenile children. According to the Police Statistics for the years 2012-2016, minors who complained that they had been victims of violence, whether physical, sexual or even mental, in their own family, were a total of 895. In particular, in 2012, 821 cases of domestic violence, 58 complaints were made by underage boys and 91 by underage girls in 2013 in a total of 862 incidents of domestic violence, 68 complaints were made by underage boys and 70 by underage girls in 2014 there were 947 complaints with 60 underage boys and 76 underage girls complaining , 1028 domestic violence reports were reported in 2015 with 81 underage boys and 94 underage girls complaining , and in 2016 out of the 889 complaints, 95 complaints were made by underage boys and 88 by juvenile girls. At the same time, allegations of violence in the family against juvenile children are also on the rise. According to the Police, in 2016, 57 boys and 14 girls were reported for such incidents, while in 2015 only 8 minors were denounced, and in 2014 only 12 minors were denounced.

 

THE NEWBORN IN A FOSTER FAMILY. A foster family was provisionally given the infant who was abandoned by his mother outside the old hospital of Limassol on November 3rd. This interim arrangement was made after the relevant Decree was issued by the Limassol District Court. At the same time, the investigation of the case is continued with due diligence by the CID of Limassol, in cooperation with all the Competent Authorities and the Services involved. It is recalled that the baby boy was abandoned by his mother a few hours after he was born under a chair outside the old Limassol hospital. The infant  was identified by a nurse who called the police. A few hours later, the mother of the newborn presented to the police and admitted that she was the one who left the little boy there as she had given birth alone in her home’s bathroom and panicked. She also asked for her child to be given back, but this was not accepted by the competent authorities, with the result that the child was placed under the responsibility of the Welfare Office.

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