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16 Sep 2017

Over 6,000 minors at risk of abuse in Puglia: The Paediatric Child-Protection Network Course arrives in Brindisi

According to regional data of the guidelines against the ill-treatment of minors in Puglia, over 6,000 children at risk of neglect and psychological and physical violence are taken into care by social services and around 120 minors are at risk of sexual abuse. This is why paediatricians in the region of Puglia in southern Italy will attend a training and awareness-raising day on the subject of the abuse and ill-treatment of minors so that they can be increasingly active in the fight against this social scourge.

Brindisi, Saturday 16 September 2017 – The “Stop Child Abuse” project is progressing in its network creation phase and tomorrow will arrive for the first time in Brindisi with a training course for paediatricians, with an approach which is both innovative and highly practical, promoting strong preventive action against child abuse.

The project, launched and supported by the pharmaceutical company Menarini, with an investment of € 1 million, has the aim of creating an anti child-abuse network that covers all Italian regions, which will see “trainer” paediatricians ready to pass on their knowledge to engage 15,000 “look-out” doctors among paediatricians and trainee doctors. The project is carried out in collaboration with the Italian Society of Paediatrics (Società Italiana di Pediatria - SIP) and the Italian Federation of Paediatricians (Federazione Italiana Medici Pediatri - FIMP), who have selected the “trainer” paediatricians.

Young lives are scarred, sometimes destroyed by abuse, yet only a very small number of cases are ever brought to light. According to statistics, every year in Italy about 70-80 thousand children and adolescents suffer abuse, but too few cases are reported. According to regional data of the guidelines against the ill-treatment of minors, over 6,000 children at risk of neglect and psychological and physical violence are taken into care by social services. Of these, 3.5% suffer physical abuse and 2% suffer sexual abuse – the latter figure is widely underestimated compared to the national average of 4.2%.

According to Domenico Cipolla, SIP national trainer “we have to be very careful and we must avoid prejudice in our attempts to intercept cases of child abuse because it is a transversal phenomenon which can occur in any environment. Despite the fact that the social and economic deprivation of suburbs is a strong risk indicator, this is not a reason to be misled. Indeed, signs of abuse must be recognised regardless of the child’s background, because in more privileged environments “well-off” families can hide unexpected cases of child abuse. Although neglect and family abandonment represent the most common types of abuse, there is also a pressing need for ad hoc courses for paediatricians so that they can be increasingly prepared and ready to uncover hidden cases of abuse which are harder to spot, such as sexual abuse.”

“We believe that paediatricians, whether they are family, university or hospital paediatricians, have a leading role to play in the fight against child abuse of any kind or severity” – Elisabetta Quaranta, FIMP Brindisi Regional Secretary stated – “but in order to bring the submerged cases to light and give concrete support to young, voiceless victims it is necessary be familiar with the clinical and legal tools and the most appropriate approach to take in these delicate situations. This is why the training day aims to offer a concrete guide to recognising signs of abuse in order to create a system made of paediatricians that each know how to direct other colleagues, giving advice and support in managing suspected cases. We are extremely proud to be able to contribute towards a project which is strengthening an existing interdisciplinary network of specialists, created by the Puglia region.”

“Defending children is the spirit that animates this ambitious and engaging project that makes Italy an example for other countries to follow” – stated Lucia and Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Menarini Group – “after this event we hope that paediatricians in the region of Puglia can increasingly become a bastion of safeguarding and contribute to bringing an end to child abuse.”

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