“ I it’s not just the Covid that is a serious public health problem ”, Dominique Le Guludec, President of the High Authority for Health (HAS), recalled Wednesday, presenting the work carried out by the body to improve and standardize the responses to child abuse. In 2018, 52,000 children were victims of ill-treatment and more than 27,000 complaints of sexual violence were registered. While confinement doubled the number of calls to 119, the speaking out following the Duhamel affair “Shows that, if we are starting to have some figures, the real number of violence suffered by children is still very poorly known”, she recalled.
Despite the magnitude of the problem, there is no national tool for responding to child abuse. Alerts are handled differently by each unit for collecting worrying information (Crip), which is now mandatory in the departments. This generates inequality between children depending on the territory, and gives parents the possibility of avoiding a measure by moving. In addition to the vagueness in the definition of action criteria, there is a lack of coordination between actors, which limits effectiveness. The document drawn up by the HAS aims to put the interests and health of the child at the center of concerns, and to improve its care by providing unified criteria and practices to those involved in its protection.
Better defining this framework of action should also help professionals working with children to overcome their reluctance to report. “We must understand that reporting is a help, not a sanction”, recalled Dr Gaëlle Pendezec, referring doctor for child protection in Loire-Atlantique. The framework developed by the HAS should also help improve the continuing education of all these actors, from doctors to teachers, and allow them to distribute information sheets explaining to them how to identify and treat this violence.
But, if mentalities are changing, the lack of means remains an obstacle. As recalled by Magali Cadeillan, social worker in Vendée, “At the end of the assessment, the recommended measures are put in place sometimes several months late, and we see the harmful consequences on the children and their families on a daily basis”.