Recent research has shown that at least one in eight girls and one in ten boys is in danger of being sexually abused before they turn 18. It has also been estimated that only 1 in 3 perpetrators is a stranger. This means in 66% of the cases, the assailant is usually someone within the family or a close friend of the family.
According to the data collected, 20% of children in Greece will at some point in their lives be approached by a paedophile. According to statistics, 10 to 15% of minors have been victims of sexual abuse by adults at least once in their lives. Paedophilia harms children's rights in a criminal way, and it has been alarmingly increasing on a global scale.
In our country, almost 33% of sexual assaults on girls and 23% of sexual assaults on boys happen within the family, whereas 79% of the people sentenced for such crimes were immediate friends or family. Recent arrests around the country have shown that there is no such thing as a "profile" for a paedophile, as this person could come from practically any social, geographical or occupational background.
However, even though modern-day children are far more informed than their predecessors, they rarely speak out, fearing the social stigma and threats by their assailant. They can not trust even their own family members, especially when one of them was the perpetrator, and they do not know how to approach the proper authorities. Also, they often feel responsible for what happened.
Unfortunately, it is common for someone to know things but refuse to believe them or remain silent out of fear. But in any case, the paedophile's behaviour should not be tolerated, and the mental, psychological and physical welfare of the child should be protected properly and in a timely fashion.
Therefore, if you suspect such an incident (for example if the child starts behaving awkwardly) you can ask for our agency to investigate whether the child is in fact in any danger or perhaps has already been harmed. With a sense of responsibility and discretion above all for both yourself and the child involved, and aided by special child psychologists, we will strive for the best possible result for the safety, welfare and health of the child.
Advice for the protection of children against abuse, given by the Greek Police.
Due to the recent rise in incidents of sexual abuse against minors in various parts of the country, the Hellenic Police Headquarters, aided by psychologists of the Health Division, offers some useful advice to both parents and children, for their own protection.
Please note that the following advice and description is merely indicative of possible sexual preference, without necessarily meaning that everyone with such traits is a paedophile. Combined, however, with "deviant" behaviour, this should raise suspicion as to the individual's motives.
What is child abuse?
This is any type of conduct between an adult and a child, with the aim of sexual gratification of the adult, who is always solely responsible for such an act.
A paedophile is usually a man over 30, with few friends his own age, who usually hangs out at places with many children, such as playgrounds or sports centres. He may often work with children, even being beyond suspicion. In many cases he is a well-known and respected member of the local community, belonging to the environment of the child and its family. as has been often proven, he uses social media to approach children, or may pretend to be a teenager and chat or play online games with them. He targets very specific age and gender groups, usually pre-teens, and works patiently and methodically in order to gain their trust. He may also blackmail or threaten the child, so as to keep the actions secret.
Advice to parents:
1) Watch the person you suspect may be sexually abusing children:
-Does he seem more interested in children than adults?
-Does he offer to babysit for you?
-Does he work with children?
-Is he particularly expressive towards children?
-Is he involved in activities with children when parents are not present?
b) personal relationships
-Is single but is not interested in having a partner
-If in a relationship with a single mother, seems more interested in the children than the mother
-Is married, but seems to love his children more than his wife
c) social relationships
-Seems more in tune with children than adults
-Has more friends who are children than adults
-His friends (who happen to be children) are of a certain age and gender group
2) Watch your children:
Have you noticed a sudden change in their behaviour?
-Sudden disruption of sleeping patterns or nightmares?
-Draws paintings with sexual content?
-Has a sexual behaviour not appropriate for his/her age?
-Has regressed into more infantile stages such as wetting the bed?
-Is afraid of people or places that he/she didn't use to?
-Keeps talking about an adult he/she didn't use to?
-Tries to tell you something but stops when another adult appears?
-Comes home with torn or soiled underwear?
-Appears to have difficulty sitting or walking?
All of the above are signs which should alert parents to pay more attention to what is happening. Do not panic, but keep your eyes open.
3) Internet Safety
-Discuss the dangers with your child. You do not need to ban the internet, but explain that personal details, as well as photographs, should never be sent to strangers.
-It is wiser to have an internet connection at home and monitor your child's internet activity, rather than let him/her use an internet cafe.
-Place the computer in a common area of the house and not the child's bedroom.
-Check your child's web browsing history regularly and make suggestions.
Keep in mind that teenagers can be rebellious and often uncooperative, as it is normal to be seeking their privacy, and a lot of changes in behaviour are usually part of a natural passage into adolescence and the sexual awakening it entails. Stand by them discreetly and do not intrude. Talk to your children, gain their trust. They must know that they can trust you with anything, without fear or shame. Talk to them about their body and the changes it is undergoing. Tell them what to watch out for. Teach them what the proper code of conduct is when dealing with both adults and children their age.
Advice to children:
The following guide gives an idea of how to speak about such issues and what to avoid:
· An adult must never touch a child to touch his or her own genitals
· An adult must never touch a child's genitals, unless he is a doctor performing a related examination
· No adult should ask a child to do anything together, while either he or the child is naked
· No adult should ask a child to keep a secret from the parents, especially when this secret involves the child
Say "no" when:
· An adult asks you to do something you know is wrong
· An adult wants to touch you somewhere you do not
· An adult does something to your body which makes you feel uncomfortable
· An adult asks you to do something and not tell your parents
Differentiate between a "present" and a "bribe"
A present is something given to you by someone who loves you. A bribe is something given to you in exchange for something else. For example, "I will give you a sweet, if you take off your clothes and lie next to me".
Protection in the street:
· Make sure you are with friends and not wandering around all alone
· Do not talk to strangers
· Scream and run fast if someone tries to lure you to a secluded place or put you in a car
· If someone offers you money and asks for a favour, say no
· Be careful at public toilets, go with a friend if possible. Get out fast if someone approaches you
Always have some extra cash on you so that you can get home - never spend that money
· Set your facebook or other such account so that only your friends can see profile details and pictures
· Never give anyone your password
· Use a profile picture that does not show your face or other characteristic details about you
· Do not give out information about your school or home address, or your telephone number
· Never "add" people whom you have not met in real life
· Never arrange to meet people you have met over the internet, unless your parents are present
· Keep in mind that some of the people you meet online may be lying about themselves
What should I do if I suspect that an adult is sexually abusing a minor?
You can contact the Minors Protection Subdivision of the Security Police or contact us at "Zakynthinos Detective" Private Investigation Agency, so that any worries or suspicions you may have about the existance of a certain individual and his effect on your child's life can be investigated immediately and effectively.