SUPPORT NETWORK: Heartfelt House executive director Vicki Hamilton believes there is a high level of awareness about the issue of child abuse on the Northern Rivers, despite the findings of a national survey indicating widespread public apathy over the issue.
SUPPORT NETWORK: Heartfelt House executive director Vicki Hamilton believes there is a high level of awareness about the issue of child abuse on the Northern Rivers, despite the findings of a national survey indicating widespread public apathy over the issue.

Child abuse hardly on our radar

WOULD you believe a child if they said they were being abused, and would you care?

While many would instinctively answer yes to both questions, a new survey by the Australian Childhood Foundation paints a bleaker – and more unsettling – picture of how adults deal with child abuse.

According to the survey, we care more about petrol prices and the road toll than they do about child abuse.

It also found a third of adults believed children made up stories about abuse.

“This study shows that unless we are confronted by the issue of child abuse at the individual level, we remain collectively blind to the problem,” Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci said.

“Six years on from our original study, the level of community concern about child abuse remains unchanged.”

However, as concerned as Heartfelt House executivedirector Vicki Hamilton is about the survey’s results, she believes the level of awareness about the issue is much higher on the Northern Rivers.

Heartfelt House at Alstonville provides support to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their family and friends.

Ms Hamilton said herorganisation would not have remained open for the last four years without the strong financial support of the community.

Still, she is not surprised that as many as a third of adults would not believe a child who said they had been abused – physically, emotionally or sexually.

“That doesn’t surprise me, but there is a difference bet-ween not believing a child and thinking what they are saying is unbelievable bec-ause it is so horrific,” Ms Hamilton said.

“People don’t want tobelieve it’s true because it may mean they have to confront the fact their partner or family member may be responsible. They don’t want to think people are capable of such acts.

“Unfortunately, in more than 95 per cent of allegations of sexual abuse, it turns out to be true.”

Last year, there were 339,454 new reports of child abuse and neglect reported across Australia. That equ-ates to one report every two minutes.

In her role at Heartfelt House, Ms Hamilton speaks with years of experience in helping adults deal with the life-long effect of abuse during their childhood.

“Long after childhood people who have been abused suffer crippling lows, low self-esteem, drug abuse, eating disorders and suicidal tendencies. You can’t pretend it just didn’t happen.”

The release of the survey coincides with with the Australian Childhood Foundation’s Childhood Hero App-eal, which runs until the end of the month and raises money to provide specialist counselling services to help children recover from abuse.

ISSUES OF MOST CONCERN

Crime – 26 per cent

Health – 18pc

Environment – 17pc

Unemployment – 10pc

Education – 9pc

Recession – 9pc

Drugs – 8pc

Transport/roads – 8pc

Poverty – 3pc

Road toll – 3pc

Aged care – 3pc

Petrol prices – 3pc

Child abuse – 2pc

 

 

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT CHILD ABUSE?

 

 

SMS 0428 264 948 or email

opinions@northernstar.com.au



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