A total of 51 minors had to be treated in hospital or clinics across the country since 2018 after sustaining injuries following abuse, it has emerged.
Health Minister Chris Fearne provided the information in parliament when replying to a question by opposition MP Mario Galea, who asked for the number of those under 18 who had to be treated in hospital following physical or sexual abuse.
The health minister said there were 51 cases of non-accidental injuries since 2018. He did not specify whether the cases involved physical or sexual abuse or both. According to Fearne, all the cases were referred to the authorities for further investigations. He did not say what the outcome of the probes was. Neither did he provide details on whether any individuals were charged in court over the abuse.
Contacted for a reaction, the Commissioner for Children, Pauline Miceli, told Times of Malta: “Of course, we are concerned about abuse on children and when doctors refer them to hospital the authorities are obliged to report the case to the Directorate for Child Protection. “Numbers show that we need to work harder on awareness raising regarding violence on children.
“The new child protection law also obliges professionals who work with children to report if they notice anything that alerts them to maltreatment or abuse because abuse often happens in the circle of trust, such as the family or adults trusted with care and responsibility of children.” As from April, professionals who come in contact with children have became legally obliged to report any suspicion of abuse, as part of efforts to better protect abused minors.
The new requirements oblige professionals to report any abuse suspicions on young people which they may have without the fear of facing prosecution if the suspicion turns out to be ill-founded. Professionals who do not report suspicious incidents could be prosecuted.