Princes amid the violence and isolation: Greek children face a harsh reality in an often cruel society

The Greek tradition of doing everything for one’s children has taken a hammering. There is every indication that behind the facade of a prosperous society, reality in Greece is harsh for children. The cases of sexual abuse that have come to light are merely the tip of the iceberg. An estimated 10,000 children suffer severe physical abuse at the hands of their parents, and thousands more, some younger than 12, take illegal substances. Meanwhile, the turnover in the local toy market from late November to the first half of January exceeded 200 million euros. «Yes, we give children consumer goods in abundance, but not contact or dialogue or feeling,» psychiatrist Katerina Matsa, of the 18-Ano drug rehabilitation organization, told Kathimerini. Experts note the shortcomings of the state in the field of child protection. «We wait for the problem to erupt then we intervene,» said Giorgos Nikolaidis, director of mental health and social welfare at the Children’s Health Institute. «The state is comfortable with the notion that the traditional Greek family possesses all the appropriate support mechanisms. But unfortunately, that is now over.»