COMMUNITY

Children's charity sees hotline calls spike in 2018

TAGS: Charity

The Smile of the Child (Hamogelo tou Paidiou) helped more than 90,000 children last year, including victims of violence and abandonment, the Greek charity said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that the figure is similar to previous years.

The organization's hotline, however, was particularly busy last year, dealing with 271,996 calls for help or advice compared with 221,152 in 2017.

Only a tiny percentage of these calls, 0.3 percent, concerned cases of sexual abuse, Smile of the Child chief Costis Giannopoulos said, expressing concern that the small rate does not mean that such incidents do not occur more frequently but that they are not being reported.

Among the calls, 729 were to report serious cases of abuse, from 848 in 2017, and concerned 1,358 children, from 1,656 the previous year. Of these, 41.7 percent concerned children up to the age of 6 and 34.5 percent the 6-12 age bracket. More than 41.7 percent of these callers reported physical abuse and 54.3 percent made accusations of abandonment or neglect. The charity also stressed that 39.5 percent of the accusations concerned both parents, 35.7 percent were against the mother and 16.9 percent were against the father.

The Smile of the Child also has 304 children living at its SOS villages right now, it reported on Thursday, saying that it received applications to house 246 children who were deemed to be at risk last year, against 218 in 2017.

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