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28 July, 2021

A pandemic within a pandemic

As COVID-19 cases have surged across the nation, so too has sexual abuse and sexual assault of children and young people, according to Kids Helpline.

By Supplied

Photo via Unsplash.

Kids Helpline, a service of yourtown for children and young people aged five to 25, reports an increase of nearly 50 per cent nationally in sexual abuse by family members over the past six months. The number of young people making contact with counsellors for the period January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021 were compared to those for same period last year.

“Kids Helpline answered 210 additional contacts in the first six months of 2021 (a total of 662) from children and young people raising the issue of being sexually exploited by family members.

“A total of 452 contacts were responded in the same time period in 2020,” said yourtown CEO, Tracy Adams.

“Child sexual abuse can take place behind closed doors. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected daily life through restrictions on people’s movements and interactions, potentially limiting opportunities for child abuse to be detected and reported.

“It is uncomfortable to think children are being sexually abused by those who have responsibility to care for them most, but Kids Helpline statistics for the past six months highlight the vulnerabilities children have in their own homes,” said Ms Adams.

A breakdown by state of sexual abuse (Intra familial abuse/Incest) and sexual assault (classified as being external to the family) for the period January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021 compared to the same period last year as shown:

  • Victoria has had an increase of 70 per cent in contacts from children and young people making contact with counsellors about sexual abuse (intra familial abuse) and an increase of 19 per cent for reports of sexual assault (classified as being external to the family)
  • New South Wales has had an increase of 49 per cent in contacts from children and young people making contact with counsellors about sexual abuse and an increase of 43 per cent for reports of sexual assault
  • Queensland has had an increase of 30 per cent in contacts from children and young people making contact with counsellors about sexual abuse and an increase of 37 per cent for reports of sexual assault

“Child vulnerability evidenced by this spike in sexual abuse (intra familial) and sexual assault (external to the family) of children and young people across Australia is shocking and needs to be acknowledged.
“Kids Helpline plays an important role as a child protection safety net to support young people and we have employed an additional 100 counsellors to help meet current demand,” said Ms Adams.


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