There are approximately 70-80 thousand children and adolescents in our country that suffer violence and physical, psychological and sexual abuse every year, but only a few cases come to light. To bring these "suppressed" cases into the open and send a message of tangible assistance to these young, voiceless victims, Menarini has launched the first project worldwide to create an anti-abuse network of 15 thousand "sentinel" pediatricians and general practitioners. The first pharmaceutical company to make a substantial commitment to establish a healthcare network against child violence, Menarini, in conjunction with Telefono Azzurro, the Italian Pediatrics Society ("Società Italiana di Pediatria" - SIP), the Italian Federation of Pediatricians ("Federazione Italiana Medici Pediatri" (FIMP) and the Association of Italian Pediatric Hospitals ("Associazione Ospedali Pediatrici Italiani" (AOPI), aims to sensitise and train Italian pediatricians to recognise and intercept the signs of any abuse, starting with the children's unexpressed signals of uneasiness and suffering, with the aim of protecting and safeguarding their well-being. The training project has already been launched and is supported by the Florence-based multinational company with an investment of approximately one million Euro.
Menarini launches a network of pediatricians against child abuse, the first in the world.
15 thousand "sentinel" doctors on their way
Similarly to other countries, the abuse and ill treatment of minors in Italy is a phenomenon that is becoming more widespread and is continually on the increase, exacerbated by the risks associated with the new technologies and the economic crisis that places a higher number of family units under threat. "Here at Menarini, we asked ourselves what we could do to help build greater awareness around this social emergency. Our response was that we could launch and support an educational project directed at Italian pediatricians, a unique project worldwide" said Lucia and Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, Chairperson and Vice Chairman of the Menarini Group.
Florence, Wednesday 11 May 2016 - Those who steal these children's innocence are almost always those who are closest and most loved, especially mum and dad, but also relations, close friends, nursery school teachers or neighbours, as we have tragically seen from recent news events. The economic crisis, families going through difficulties, and conflict between parents and in society substantially raise the risk of ill treatment and abuse: there are around 70-80 thousand children and adolescents every year who are victims of violence, but it is a classic case of only being able to see the tip of the iceberg. 70% of all cases play out within the family home, two out of three times at the hand of one of the parents. These are the results of a recent survey conducted by Telefono Azzurro and Doxa Kids, according to which one child in three fears that their right to being protected from violence and abuse is not been adequately defended. The statistics on calls to the 114 Telefono Azzurro emergency number provide further proof. Half the cases refer to violence and psychological or physical abuse, with one in ten, sexual. The number of young victims who manage to seek help is very low: one in five among those who suffer sexual abuse and one in three who are victims of violence.
Their suffering is veiled in silence and for this reason Menarini, in collaboration with Telefono Azzurro, the the Italian Pediatrics Society (SIP), the Italian Federation of Pediatricians (FIMP) and the Association of Italian Pediatric Hospitals (AOPI), have launched the first project worldwide to create an anti-abuse network of 15 thousand "sentinel" pediatricians and general practitioners. There are two phases involved: the first, "train the trainers" to provide 23 hours of intensive training courses to one thousand pediatricians in all Regions, so that they are "well-versed" in recognising the signs of unexpressed childhood difficulties, and become the "sentinels" of child abuse. These courses will support around 15 thousand general practitioners and pediatricians throughout Italy in these aspects, to form the first anti-abuse network in the world. The thirteen leading pediatric hospitals in the country will also be involved as training centres, and act as points of reference for pediatricians nationwide. They will also be a place that will deal with emergencies and the subsequent phase of recovery to protect the children from violence. Menarini's investment to establish the anti-abuse network is around one million Euro. Italy is the first country in the world with an articulated project to fight violence against minors based on its healthcare network and supported by a leading pharmaceutical company.
"Menarini is very proud to be the first pharmaceutical company to support this unique project, which sets an example for all other countries. It represents the starting point for an international programme promoted by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), which places Italy at the centre of the important fight against child abuse" - announced Lucia and Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, Chairperson and Vice Chairman of the Menarini Group – "It is a wonderful project which we hope can prevent stories of violence against children that we would never want to hear. It will also contribute as a quantum leap for the entire Italian healthcare system in safeguarding the rights of childhood and adolescence".
"Pediatricians play a key role in the healthy and balanced growth of children, and represent their first point of contact with the healthcare system, but pediatricians are more importantly a point of reference and trust, to whom the entire family entrusts its children during their more delicate years"- explained Ernesto Caffo, Chairman of Telefono Azzurro. - "They especially must have the skills to decipher the alarm signals when a child is experiencing problems or is at risk. For this reason, Telefono Azzurro, in conjunction with the Italian Pediatrics Society and the Italian Federation of Pediatricians have enthusiastically embraced the project being promoted by Menarini. With its experience of almost 30 years in listening to children and adolescents who are victims of abuse, Telefono Azzurro offers the best skills and intervention procedures to provide an effective and qualified response to the problem of abuse in our country".
"Unfortunately, the pediatrician is at the heart of a system which is inadequate in dealing with and recognising the signs of abuse. The lack of specific training at degree and specialisation level is also critical. There is consequently a strong need for a system organised on an ongoing and permanent basis that can support the specialist who suspects or recognises abuse in his or her daily practice"- commented Pietro Ferrara and Luigi Nigri, Heading the project for the SIP and FIMP "The Italian pediatrician has shown interest and enthusiasm in accepting the proposal made by Menarini for training courses on the issues of abuse and ill treatment that can no longer be ignored due to the serious consequences they pose to the short and longer term health of children. An ill-treated and/or abused child not only faces a higher risk of physical, psychological and behavioural problems, but also systematic damage during adulthood" - experts emphasised - "The SIP and FIMP associations therefore believe it is a reason for professional pride and increased social utility to launch a support network amongst pediatricians, which connects the hospital to the local pediatrician, and if necessary, law enforcement, the Courts and Social and Community Services shelters, in a combined effort within a national, shared framework".