Hungary Survey of the prevalence of child abuse in four countries

6 Sep 2011 Paedophilia sexual exploitation

2533_pandora_smallSeptember 6, 2011, Budapest, Hungary: The Independent Journalism Centre (Hungary), together with the Budapest Child Protection Methodological Service and other experts conducted a survey in 11 schools in Hungary, among 500 students between 12-15 years of age (and their teachers) about child sexual abuse. The questionnaire was asking children whether they themselves experienced any form of child sexual abuse or if they know of others who have. The results of the survey were presented during a roundtable discussion with all researchers and many professionals present.

According to the results 17% of children asked experienced child abuse personally, while 30% of them know of other children who have become victims. 16% of the children had already experienced an adult asking them on the internet to chat, to meet or use webcam. Their teachers are knowledgeable about the phenomenon of child abuse, however 32% were not sure who to turn to in case they see signs of such, and another 34% do not trust authorities to solve the issue. This means, that teachers rarely live up to their role within the referral system to signal child abuse cases.

The survey – available in Hungarian at the moment – is part of a project Pandora’s Box, which is implemented in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia with the aim of developing an international network against child abuse among child protection specialists, members of the media, and teachers. It is meant to provide much-needed information about the subject in the four countries, which will be the basis of further trainings among journalists, teachers and child protection workers, as well as of advocacy activities. In Hungary there are a number of legislative issues that need to be addressed: for the moment if child abuse happened with the consent of a child above the age of 12, it is not considered as sexual abuse. Also, the legal wording of the phenomenon is very much stigmatizing the victims, using medieval wordings such as “incest”, “fornication” or “vitiation”. Furthermore, for cases of children above 12 the person needs to initiate the proceedings (it is not the prosecution/state) and so it can only be done within 30 days of the event, while many victims take much longer to come forward. [JA]

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