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575 Child sexual abuse in Bulgaria: a need for policy change
  1. Petya Trendafilova
  1. Medical University – Sofia, Faculty of Public Health, Sofia, Bulgaria

Abstract

Background (issue/problem) Sexual abuse has a long-term impact on the child’s development. Children victims of sexual abuse become more often abusers. Child abuse is no longer a private problem. We should change the perspective and put an accent on the responsibility of the country and the whole society.

Description of the problem There is a high tolerance against child sexual abuse in Bulgarian society. This tolerance can be found within the family, the public opinion, and even within the institutions like schools, kinder gardens and other institutions responsible for upbringing of children at risk, as well as the police, the prosecutors and the court. An insufficient synchronisation in the legislation exists, especially the interaction and coordination between the institutions and the justice system. Usually investigations have been carried out for years with no result in Bulgaria.

Results (effects/changes) In 2013 the total numbers of reported cases (new and old cases) of child sexual abuse were 304 according to the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP). It is about 15.4% of all types of violence against children. For comparison, in 2012 the number of sexual abused children is 324 or 15.3% of all types of violence. There is a lack of data about the support those victims have received and about the work done by the responsible institutions. There are limited programs for psychological help for victims of sexual abuse at the institutions and no programs developed to work within the family.

Conclusions The services for children victims of violence in Bulgaria are insufficient. It is quite important to create a society, public opinion, legislation, institutions, professionals and policy that are sensitive and intolerant to the child sexual abuse issue and to adopt common standards for people working with children. Transparent data about the services available for victims of sexual abuse and services provided to those who needed them. Continuing training of professionals working with victims of child sexual abuse has to be implemented. Appropriate supervision of activities with children has to be applied. Functioning penal system and functioning child protection system for victims of sexual abuse is needed.

  • Sexual abuse
  • Violence
  • Children

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