London, December 3 : British child abuse experts say that the maltreatment of children in the country has reached such a mark that one in 10 kids suffers physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
They even say that most maltreated children are not referred to the concerned authorities for help.
A series of papers published today by the Lancet medical journal in collaboration with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health suggests that teachers, GPs and paediatricians lack confidence in the ability of social services because they fear that the child's plight may worsen if he/she is taken into care and placed in a foster family.
Ruth Gilbert and his colleagues from University College London's Institute of Child Health have revealed in one paper that between 4-16 per cent of children suffer physical abuse like hitting, punching, beating and burning.
They even point out that about 5-10 per cent of girls and 1-5 per cent of boys have been subjected to penetrative sex, usually by a family friend or relative.
They also write that at least 15 per cent of girls and five per cent of boys have faced sexual abuse in different forms, ranging from exposure to porn magazines to rape.
The paper says that about 10 per cent of children suffer emotional abuse every year, which includes persistently being made to feel worthless, unwanted or scared.
Fifteen per cent of kids suffer neglect, defined as the failure of their parents or carers to meet the child's basic emotional or physical needs or ensure their safety, according to the paper.
"What this report does emphasise is the extent of the risk factors and consequences of child maltreatment, which are of such complexity that any reflex attempt to apportion blame or think there is a simple solution to this issue is to completely misrepresent the extent and depth of the problem," the Guardian quoted Lancet editor Richard Horton as saying.
The authors of the papers say that far more research is required to find out ways to prevent child abuse.
"(The series) will unfortunately not halt the blight of child abuse, because the phenomenon is too common, too surreptitious and too deeply rooted in deprivation and other social ills - but we nonetheless hope to raise awareness of the scientific evidence that is available, and indeed essential, to guide paediatricians and other professionals in their practice with children who might have been abused and to help bring a new logic and clarity to public debate about this contentious area," says Dr. Horton in a commentary.