Pequeno Príncipe assisted in more than 600 cases of violence in 2021

The institution upholds a campaign that seeks to contribute to early identification of cases and the end of violence against children and adolescents

Every year, children and adolescents who are victims of all types of violence are admitted at the Pequeno Príncipe Hospital. The nature of violence ranges from sexual, physical, psychological, neglect or self-harm. In 2021, there were 618 visits to the Hospital – an 11% increase compared to 2020 data –, and once again, sexual violence was on the top of the list, with 344 victims, that is, 55% of the total cases. In 76 incidents, it was not the first situation of this type of violence suffered by a child or an adolescent.

Of the total number of cases, 136 girls and boys needed to be hospitalized to recover from the injuries suffered or to be removed from family life, until the childhood defense agencies took the appropriate protective measures. A 4-month-old baby entered a brain death protocol after arriving at the institution with several fractures and traumatic brain injury. An alarming fact is related to the young age of children subjected to violent situations attended last year: 282 (about 45%) were up to 3 years old.

Stress in early childhood – the period from pregnancy to age 6 –, including exposure to violence, has long-term negative mental and physiological consequences, which can cause permanent changes in the developing brain, affecting, for example, cognitive functioning, language acquisition and self-control. In this age group, children are still unable to defend themselves, or ask for help, due to lack of maturity and discernment.

Unfortunately, the place where children and adolescents suffer the most violence is at home: 471 cases registered in 2021 were of a domestic nature. More than half of the aggressors were male (63.7%), and the father is pointed out as the main suspect. “The aggressor usually takes advantage of the bonds of trust established with the victim, in addition to knowledge of routine and habits, to practice violence and stay further away from the suspicion of such an act by those responsible and family members. Therefore, it is important to observe changes in the behavior of children and adolescents,” advises the psychologist Daniela Prestes, from Pequeno Príncipe.

Mental health
According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) ​​study on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents, one in seven people aged 10 to 19 years old in the world suffers from a mental disorder, which can lead to disability or even death. Also considered as violence, self-harm is quite worrying. In 2021, the smallest victim of suicidal ideation attended at the institution was a child of only 7 years old.

Altogether, Pequeno Príncipe assisted 52 children and adolescents for self-harm. An increase of 173% compared to 2020 data, when the Hospital received 19 cases of this type of violence. In 21 occurrences, it was not the first time it happened. “The time of isolation, with less family and social interaction, affected everyone’s emotions, especially children and adolescents, who had, mainly, in the school environment, the possibility to ask for help. The whole context of the pandemic added to it further weakened the boys and girls,” highlights the psychologist.

Victims profile
In cases of sexual violence, the vast majority of children treated at Pequeno Príncipe Hospital who were subjected to some violent situations are girls – 78% of the total. The age group with the most registered cases, female, is between 4 and 7 years old, with 107 occurrences. In males, records of sexual violence are concentrated between 5 months and 3 years – with 32 cases. Of the total number, 220 children and adolescents had injuries and 31 required hospitalizations. Home was the least safe place for these children, as 75% of the cases were domestic in nature. As for the perpetrator of the crime, 60% of the aggressors were part of the victim’s family circle.

Following sexual violence, the highest number of cases is due to negligence: 150. In 32 situations, it was not the first time that the child suffered this type of violence – which appears as intoxication, fracture, and head trauma.

Children need your attention! Say no to violence!
Since 2006, Pequeno Príncipe has promoted the Campaign For Life – Violence Cannot Mark the Future of Children and Adolescents, which aims to contribute to the prevention of violence against children, encouraging the identification of cases and reporting. For this, the campaign works with educational materials aimed at health and education professionals, which help to promote early identification and reporting of cases; it also focuses on society, mobilizing people to report even in suspected cases; and finally, it includes the children and adolescents themselves, through two books aimed at this audience that awaken them to self-care and the cry for help. A third book is currently in production.

Any violence suspicious case must be reported immediately. In the US call: toll-free 1800-799-SAFE.

To learn more about the campaign, please click here.


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