Child abuse in Malta is under the microscope after revelations that 51 minors have been treated in hospital for injuries sustained through physical or sexual abuse since 2018.
The information was provided in parliament by Health Minister Chris Fearne in response to opposition MP Mario Galea probing the matter.
Galea asked for the number of those under the age of 18 who had to be treated in hospital following sexual or physical abuse.
According to Fearne, there were 51 cases of non-accidental injuries since 2018, all of which were referred to the authorities for further investigation.
Whether the cases were a result of physical or sexual abuse or both, was not specified by the health minister. Nor did he provide any information on the outcomes of the official inquiries.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli admitted to Times of Malta that “we need to work harder on awareness raising regarding violence on children”.
“The new child protection law also obliges professionals who work with children to report if they notice anything that alerts them to maltreatment or abuse because abuse often happens in the circle of trust, such as the family or adults trusted with care and responsibility of children,” she continued.
This newfound law legally obligates professionals who come in contact with children to report any suspicion of abuse without the fear of facing prosecution if the accusation turns out to be false.
If they fail to report such suspicions, the individuals may be prosecuted.
Despite the weight of this number, these 51 victims form part of the few that have been reported.
In fact, according to the official figures of 2019, there are roughly 30 reported cases of sexual assault of children per year. Yet, police figures have shown that at least one child per week is sexually assaulted.
This silence is said to be the result of the negative effects of Malta’s current time-barring which adds a limit to when such cases can be reported.
What do you make of these tragic numbers?