Reflection Activity

It is often difficult for children to speak up when they are experiencing abuse in their home. Can you think of possible reasons which prevent children from revealing their suffering?

In order to be able to tackle child physical and emotional abuse, we need to know the scale of the problem. However, abuse is often not reported (as it was in Janek’s case) and official statistics on the scale and prevalence of child maltreatment may only represent the tip of an iceberg. Child abuse and maltreatment often goes unreported and children do not speak up because of, among others:

  • a fear of potential consequences,
  • shame,
  • lack of support,
  • lack of knowledge where to report,
  • a desire to protect their parents,
  • lack of awareness that what they experience is wrong,
  • lack of faith that it will change anything.

Professionals may fail to recognize and report child abuse due to lack of knowledge or certainty and/or an unwillingness to interfere in family matters.

Social studies may give a more representative picture of the true rates of child maltreatment (although the findings can vary depending on sample and methodology). Recently a meta-analysis of European research studies suggests a prevalence rate of 22% physical abuse, with boys being at greater risk than girls. Conversely, girls have been found to be more likely to experience emotional abuse, which was found to have a slightly greater prevalence rate of 29%. It means that if you have a class of 30 children, on average, 6 of your pupils may have experienced physical abuse and 8 to 9 may have been emotionally abused!



Class size Potential number of students who could experience child sexual victimisation
20 4
25 5
30 6
35 7
40 8