The sexual abuse of children has increased by 67% in Croatia during the coronavirus pandemic while the number of people addicted to alcohol has jumped to a quarter of a million and numerous families have been destroyed, an online panel on on the mental health of the nation heard on Monday.
Psychiatrists, psychologists and representatives of various civil society organisations participated in the panel debate, warning of the increase in all types of addiction, domestic violence and abuse of children during the pandemic, one of the debate’s organisers, the Lifeline Association, reported on Monday.
Gordana Buljan-Flander, the director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, presented data from the Interior Ministry which indicate that in the first five months of 2020, child abuse increased by 27% compared to the same period in 2019. Physical and emotional abuse of children increased by 32% year-on-year while sexual abuse increased by as much as 67%.
During the pandemic, children were constantly at the computer or on their mobile phones while stuck at home, and online violence increased drastically too. Parents need to show more involvement with their children’s online activities, said Buljan-Flander. She added that the use of marijuana among children has increased and that children are starting to use it at an increasingly young age.
As far as adults are concerned, in addition to consumption of alcohol and illegal substances, a significant increase has occurred in behavioural addiction – betting and gambling. All of that reflects on the entire family and is destructive. The situation is definitely not good, psychiatrist Ivan Celic warned.
As for alcoholism, Celic said that there were 250,000 alcoholics in Croatia, noting that this was a huge figure.