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Children’s Authority: 100 reports of toddler abuse in nine months
During the nine-month period, May 18, 2015 to February 17, 2016, the Children's Authority received approximately 100 reports of children three years and under, including newborns who were physically abused.
These statistics came to light after the tragic death of two-year-old Jacob Antonio Bastaldo last Friday.
It was initially believed the toddler was beaten to death but an autopsy showed that the death of the toddler was accidental.
The report said Jacob suffered a ruptured liver and died from complications associated with haemorrhaging after falling off a coffee table.
The child’s mother is 18.
Expressing condolences to Jacob’s family, the authority said there were concerns of alleged abuse to baby Jacob after it was alleged that marks of violence were discovered on the child’s body.
In the “nine months and counting statistical bulletin” issued yesterday it said physical abuse represented the third leading category of abuse reported.
It said although Section Four of the Children Act 2012 permitted only parents and guardians to apply “reasonable” corporal punishment of children while forbidding its use by anyone else, the reports of physical abuse against children were often far outside anything permissible.
The authority made another appeal to parents and guardians to be more creative and effective in disciplining children.
“The authority recognises that some parents and guardians are under extreme stress, have little support and may resort to corporal punishment.
“However, research shows that corporal punishment teaches children that hitting is an acceptable response to anger. It is therefore necessary to teach our children how to manage anger without violence,” the report added.
Regarding the case of a 14-year-old girl who recently gave birth at hospital, the authority said it received the report and its emergency response team was dispatched to visit the child and her baby.
The authority said it was providing the necessary psychosocial support and counselling to the teen mother and added that both the mother and baby were healthy and in a safe place.
To date, of the 1,000 cases of sexual abuse reported to the Authority, 142 children were in sexual relationships with adult men, with 61 of them becoming pregnant or have had a child.
“The authority is again calling on parents and guardians to be vigilant with their children, due to the increasing number of child sexual abuse reports,” it said.
“The authority is of the view that this trend must not be allowed to continue and discussions must begin to change public attitude towards children, their rights and the need to end child abuse.”