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New Face of Child Abuse: Drunk Moms PDF Print E-mail
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Written by YLE   

 

Hiilipiirros, jossa äiti on lyömässä pientä tyttöä. Police statistics show that child abuse has a new face: drunken mothers. Police say they get around 400 reports of domestic violence against children each year; these days around two-thirds of the cases point to intoxicated mothers.

The recession has apparently had a lot to do with the spike in the number of inebriated women who turn abusive.

"The typical case is a single mother who has an alcohol problem and who's become exhausted by work," explains Police Sergeant Pekka Hätönen, who's in charge of the child abuse unit at the Helsinki Itäkeskus police department.

"She might have recently lost her job. All these pressures become focused on a misbehaving child, and the mother becomes easily enraged and lashes out physically, violently."

Normally, police are alerted to suspected child abuse through day cares, schools, and social workers.

Prosecution Tough for Kids

In Finland, children under the age of 15 are rarely ever brought into the court room. Instead, videotapes of police interviews them are shown. But even conducting an interview with a child is a delicate and difficult task.

Gaining trust is key.

"Before we even go to the video interview room, we try to connect with the child. We might read Donald Duck or other comic books, play, or even sing together if that feels right. Sometimes we've even played with the police badge," says Hätönen.

Hätönen says that he has heard children describe cruel acts by their mothers.

"One child we interviewed didn't heat up some water enough. The mother became enraged, boiled the water, and put the child's hand in it to show how hot the water should have been," he said.

According to Finnish law and interpretations by the courts, flicking, slapping, and hair-pulling are all forms of mild child abuse.

 



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