THE Child Welfare Office (PANI) last week reported that 1,000 complaints of child abuse are made to the emergency911 phone service each month. These cases include physical and verbal abuse, possible sexual abuse, infant exploitation and children lost or abandoned in the street, according to a report in the daily La Nación.
The growing number of calls is an indication of an increased awareness among the population that child abuses should not be tolerated, according to Child Welfare Minister Rosalía Gil. The information was released during a presentation Monday of the Ninth State of the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Costa Rica. During the first three months of2004, the 911 service received 2,984calls reporting child abuse – an average of 995 cases a month, La Nación reported.
In 2003, the total number of calls was 10,794, an average of 899 cases a month. PANI has the resources to fund a 24-hour hotline for child-abuse calls, sometimes referred by 911. Therapy is provided and children are placed in shelters when necessary. However, the response of the institution is not enough, according to Gil. Child Welfare officials are discussing their need for more funds with the Ministry of the Finance.