BRIS Report 2001


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BRIS Report 2001

  1. 1. The ReportCalls and E-mails 2001Published: February 2002 Childrens Rights in Society
  2. 2. Contents Summary 4 Total volume of calls to the Childrens Helpline 4 BRIS.SE 6 Calls from Adults 6 BRIS in a changing society 8 Calls from children and young people 10 The spread of calls to the Childrens Helpline 2001 (FIG.1) 10 The number of statistically recorded calls from children 1991 -2001 (FIG.2) 12 Number of calls from children per month (FIG.3) 13 Who calls BRIS? 13 Childrens ages in calls from children (FIG.4) 14 Domestic circumstances in calls from children (FIG. 5) 14 The spread of problem environments in calls from children (FIG. 6) 15 How are problems affected by gender, age and environment? 15 Nature of the calls 16 Problem categories in childrens calls (FIG.7) 17 Common themes on the Childrens Helpline 18 Theme: Bullying 18 Theme: Childrens relationships with their contemporaries 20 Theme: Childrens development 21 Theme: The Family 22 Theme: Physical, psychological and sexual abuse 24 Perpetrators of physical abuse cited in calls from children (FIG.8) 26 Perpetrators of sexual abuse cited in calls from children (FIG.9) 27 Miscellaneous 30 Topical themes 32 Children and stress 32 Loneliness and absentee adults 32 Ethnicity 33 Disasters 34 After the call 35 Further contacts following calls from children (TABLE A) 35 Managing assignments 36 BRIS.SE 39 The BRIS-mail 39 Problem categories in The BRIS-mail replies to children (FIG.10) 41 Discussion forums 42 Web reports: Bullying on the Internet • Belief in the future 44 Calls from adults about children 47 Profiles of adult callers 47 Callers relationships to the child in question (FIG. 11) 47 Problem categories in calls from adults (FIG. 12) 48 Themes: The Family • Childrens development and relationships with contemporaries 48 Physical, psychological and sexual abuse • Problems with authorities Others and miscellaneous 52 Referrals of calls from adults (TABLE B) 53 Conclusion 542 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  3. 3. The BRIS Report Calls and E-mails 2001 Gunnar Sandelin, Press Secretary Peter Irgens, Development Secretary February 2002 Photography: Karin Nauclér Text: Gunnar Sandelin Research: Peter Irgens Photography: From various photographic agencies, un less otherwise stated.The people in the photographs are not the children and young people referred to in the text. Translation: Eqvator AB Layout: Rolf A Olsson Reproduction and printing: Ålands TryckerietB R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 3
  4. 4. Summary Total volume of calls to the Childrens Helpline During 2001 a total of almost 200,000 calls were made to the BRIS Child- rens Helpline, an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year, which had also seen a rise in the total number of calls by 50 per cent. This dramatic increase in the total number of calls in recent years is largely due to the rise of mobile phones and the fact that BRIS has beco- me well-known to Swedish children and young people. Accessibility studies have shown increasing problems in actually getting through, and this has prompted BRIS to press for the adoption of a new digital telephone system which should improve access to the Childrens Helpline. However, roughly nine out of ten calls fall outside our statistics becau- se they contain too little information. For the most part, these are so- called “test” calls in which BRIS volunteers are either subjected to pranks or insults, or in which it can be assumed that callers are testing out whe- ther BRIS is actually a reliable contact partner. The statistically recorded calls to the BRIS Childrens Helpline have great- ly increased in number since the early 1990s, yet in proportion to the to- tal number of calls received, they have decreased in since the mid 1990s, now accounting for only 9 per cent of all calls received. In spite of this, they still account for more than two thirds of the time spent on calls at the Childrens Helpline. To keep up with the greatly increased number of non-statistically re- corded calls brought about by mobile phones, BRIS is set to re-structure the focus of its data collection in 2002, which will mean that future BRIS reports will be increasingly able to present more material on a significant- ly higher number of calls. “Since many young people ring up to test us out, we would like to know more about these calls. It is important for BRIS to follow the trends in so- ciety, and when children and young people need to test out the limits we should be there for them. We know that many young people suffer from a lack of adults who are close to them,” says Göran Harnesk, BRIS Se- cretary General. In 2001 there were 17,150 statistically recorded calls from children and young people, a fall of two per cent compared to the previous year. No personal details are registered, yet information about the childs sex and age, domestic circumstances and the subject of the call and the fee- lings expressed by the child are documented. Information on the perpe- trators of bullying and physical and sexual abuse is also registered. Of the calls statistically recorded by BRIS, 72 per cent relate primarily to girls and 28 per cent to boys, virtually an exact replication of the gen- der split of all children making calls over recent years. Most calls to BRIS concern young people of secondary school age with an average age of 13. Most of them live in a natural nuclear family, yet al- most thirty per cent live with lone parents or in a step family. Problems can often be traced to the childs inner world, yet more than4 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  5. 5. 50 per cent of calls describe home or school as the critical problem area. Never before have so many calls For the most part, boys and girls call with similar concerns, yet boys been received during a calendar year.calls tend more towards problems such as bullying and physical abuse, One noticeable development is thewhereas girls call rather more frequently about subjects such as family increase in calls from mobile phones.conflicts and sexual abuse. Girls more often than boys express low spirits,sorrow or thoughts of suicide. Generally speaking, at the onset of long holidays, the number of calls in-creases from vulnerable children living in families in which neglect, abuseand assault occur. For these children the summer and Christmas holidaysmean increased suffering since the support of adults outside the family de-creases and much social work is carried out by a skeleton staff.The problems children called about were:• Bullying: 18 per cent of calls• Family conflicts: 12 per cent• Love/relationship problems: 11 per cent• Sexual development, sexuality and pregnancy: 10 per cent• Serious problems such as physical abuse (6.9 per cent) and sexual abuse (5.5 per cent) were also regularly cited. The 3,000 calls relating to bullying during the year, an increase of 13per cent on the previous year, broke all records and continued the trendof a major increase in the number of bullying calls in recent years.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 5
  6. 6. Perpetrators of abuse 48 per cent of the bullies are boys alone, whereas 15 per cent of cases cite girls alone and 36 per cent indicate bullies of both sexes. With regard to physical abuse, BRIS has conducted a survey of abusers for the sixth year running indicating that 85 per cent of abusers are part of the family, with fathers being the most usual culprits. The gender divide between abusers reveals that 69 per cent are men, 31 per cent women. Where sexual abuse is concerned, men are the abusers in 84 per cent of cases, women 14 per cent, and in 2 per cent the perpetrators are of either sex. Children callers cited fathers as the abusers in one in four cases. Tea- chers/school staff members and abusers of their own age were also cited. This year we are also providing an account of Topical Themes, occasio- ned by calls with an expressed or underlying theme which cannot be in- cluded in our standard problem categories. Frequent subjects to which BRIS has paid special attention during the year arise from calls relating to children and stress, loneliness, absentee adults, ethnicity and disasters. BRIS.SE BRIS new website was completed at the beginning of the year following twelve months of intensive voluntary activity on the part of dedicated staff at the IT company Framfab. It enables visitors to e-mail BRIS with their pro- blems and to take part in themed discussions with people of their own age under the supervision of a BRIS moderator. The website also presents infor- mation about BRIS, press releases and our anti-bullying campaign, etc. Communication with children and young people at BRIS.SE is based on each child creating his or her own fictitious identity in the form of a fan- tasy figure, a “Mumla”, which enables them both to e-mail us and join our discussion forums in complete anonymity. By the end of the year BRIS.SE had recorded 170,000 hits, and more than 10,000 “Mumlas” had been created. The most extensive part of the website is the BRIS-mail function, which received more than 4,000 e-mails from children and young people during the year, the majority relating to severe problems. The young people con- cerned write about their suffering in a variety of expressive ways. Many of them contemplate suicide, feel misunderstood and do not know how to go about getting to grips with their thoughts and anxieties. The BRIS-mail enables staff on e-mail duty to follow a childs corre- spondence, often enabling BRIS to conduct an extensive dialogue with the child. BRIS.SE also provides an opportunity to discuss subjects such as lone- liness and bullying in discussion forums which are permanently open. BRIS has also published two web reports on Bullying on the Internet and Childrens and Young Peoples Faith in the Future. Calls from Adults 1,896 calls were received in 2001 from adults about children by the BRISDuring the year around 4,000 e-mailmessages were received from child- Helpline for Adults - about Children, a reduction of 11 per cent comparedren and young people. The majority to the previous year.of these messages were problem-rela- Calls generally tend to be made by parents (usually the mother) andted. other relatives. Representatives from various authorities also consult BRIS6 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  7. 7. for its experience in various serious matters relating to children. In seven Adults who call are mostly worriedcases out of ten, those who call the BRIS Helpline for Adults - about about problems regarding access,Children are women. custody and divorce - a subject cove- red by more than one third of calls 54 per cent of calls from adults were about girls, 46 per cent about from adults.boys. This is a more even gender split than we find on the Childrens Help-line. Compared with the children who themselves call BRIS, adults tend toworry about younger children. The average age is exactly 10, comparedto the average age on the Childrens Helpline which is roughly 13. Adults with worries about children that are primarily related to the fa-mily call about various problems regarding access, custody and divorce -a subject covered by more than one third of calls from adults. One call in four to the BRIS Helpline for Adults - about Children is con-nected with physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Calls from adultsabout sexual abuse tend to come from mothers who are worried that achild may be at risk. Information relating to perpetrators is largely simi-lar to the equivalent information on the Childrens Helpline. Bullying is the most common single reason for children to call theChildrens Helpline, yet on the adult helpline the subject is not nearly socommon. These calls mostly tend to refer to the failed attempts of variousschools to do something about the ostracism of certain children by theirpeers. Many adults who call BRIS are disappointed by the way they have beentreated by various authorities, most commonly the social services. Callsmay, for example, indicate that the caller feels that matters are not suffi-ciently investigated, or that a child is not being taken seriously. In eight out of ten calls from adults, referrals are given as to how to takethe problem further.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 7
  8. 8. BRIS in a changing society The rapid pace of change in society has resulted in advanced technology that provides children and young people with new means of communica- ting with the world around them. Methods of measuring and interpreting this communication also place new and increased demands on those adults who work with young people. For this reason, in recent years we at BRIS have invested major resources in keeping abreast of developments, with measures including our website, BRIS.SE and its e-mail facilities as a vital supplement to our helplines. During 2001, some two thousand child- ren and young people sent us e-mails about all manner of subjects ranging from their most vexed problems to things which make them happy. Dis- cussion forums, web chats and “mumling” are other parts of our Internet facilities for those wishing to make contact with BRIS. (Read more about BRIS.SE on page 39) Right up until the late 1990s, most of the calls to the Childrens Helpline were made from land line telephones, usually in the home. Children took the opportunity when nobody else was at home and plucked up courage to call and speak for a few undisturbed minutes about their difficulties. This is not the case with the average call from children today: the drama- tic increase in the use of mobile phones has radically changed the picture. A survey in October 2001 showed that 75 per cent of calls to the Child- rens Helpline came from mobile phones (and that these calls accounted for 91 per cent of the costs). At the same time during the previous year 64 per cent of calls came from mobiles, indicating an ongoing trend for in- creased use. The fact that calls to the Childrens Helpline are free of charge to cal- lers means not only greatly increased telephone costs for BRIS, but also a change in the nature of calls. One advantage with mobiles is that the child- ren and young people who previously had to call BRIS surreptitiously can now speak freely from anywhere they happen to be. This has resulted in a much desired shift towards increased frankness, the extent of which we have not previously been able to imagine. But - an ever increasing number of the calls which our volunteer staff receive comprise what we refer to as test calls. Calling from mobiles also enables groups of teenagers to call up toge- ther to test out what BRIS is all about. These test calls are fundamentally of value in that they involve attempts at contact with an adult world which seems noticeably absent in the lives of a growing number of child- ren and young people. Occasionally this involves straightforward nuisance calls in which the callers want to make a joke at our expense, yet we often receive fairly clearA survey in October 2001 showed signals that the test call is actually a first, rather provocative attempt tothat 75 per cent of calls to the Chil- gauge whether they really can expect some kind of sensible, confidentialdrens Helpline came from mobile adult contact …if only you had the courage to call again when you arephones (and that these calls accoun- alone.ted for 91 per cent of the costs). Atthe same time during the previous With this in mind, the way we manage statistics during 2002 will deve-year 64 per cent of calls came from lop and partially modify the way we collect data from childrens calls.mobiles, indicating an ongoing trend Now approaching 200,000, the total number of calls continues to growfor increased use. from year to year (there were roughly 187,000 calls to the Childrens8 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  9. 9. Helpline in 2001, an increase of 20 per cent compared to the previousyear. For more details, please see the next chapter). The statistically pro-cessed calls only comprise a small part of this total, and BRIS has there-fore decided it would be useful to obtain more information from the testcalls than has previously been possible. This is an important change whichwill first be reflected in next years BRIS report.One facility which better equips us to deal with the children and youngpeople who call the Childrens Helpline is the new telephone system in-troduced at the end of 2001 in the five BRIS regional centres around Swe-den where all calls are received by our volunteers. In recent years accessi-bility studies of our telephone lines have shown that the previous tele-phone system had become increasingly inadequate and unable to copewith the load imposed by the dramatic increase in the number of calls.Since the mid 1990s roughly every other call has got through direct to avolunteer, meaning that a child has needed to make two calls on averagein order to make contact with BRIS. And unfortunately, line accessibilityhas worsened over recent years. Old fashioned analogue telephone technology with traditional cablesand switchboards has become inadequate. In its place a new digital sys-tem from Telenordia, together with new switchboards, should provide amore convenient and flexible telephone service. It will provide us with newtechnological solutions, such as a queue system instead of the engagedtone. However, as of the first quarter of 2002 there are still a number oftransitional problems which we and our partners are working to solve. Our primary aim is for BRIS new telephone system to form the basisof better and more open communication with children and young peopleand to substantially improve our capacity for more comprehensive andup-to-date statistical management. During the last few months of 2001we were already able to see that the queue system had cut down the num-ber of straightforward nuisance calls. During 2002 BRIS also intends totest how accessibility on the Childrens Helpline can be improved througha turnstile-based telephone system.Another important element in meeting the demands of the 21st centuryfor different means of communication with children and young people isthe increased level of specialist competence which BRIS has gained overrecent years. The number of staff has roughly doubled, and currentlyBRIS has some 40 permanent employees around Sweden working along-side almost 350 volunteer counsellors. There is ongoing new recruitmentthroughout our five regions of so-called BRIS representatives whose dutiesinclude planning and managing helpline activities, and permanent postsfor in-house lawyers, project co-ordinators and national co-ordinators forthe Childrens Helpline have also been created. With specialist competence Photography: Karin Nauclérover a wide field, BRIS has set its focus on growth as an organisation toprovide support for the increasing number of children and young peoplewho need us. Currently BRIS has some 40 perma- nent employees around Sweden work- ing alongside almost 350 volunteer counsellors.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 9
  10. 10. Calls from children and young people During 2001 a total of 187,486 calls were made to the 350 or so volun- tary staff (so-called duty counsellors) who man the helplines in the BRIS regional offices in Stockholm, Malmö, Gothenburg, Norrköping and Umeå. This total represents an increase of 20 per cent compared to 2000, which had also seen a 50 per cent increase compared to 1999 (see the BRIS report: Calls to BRIS’ Helplines 2000). The overall number of calls to BRIS has dramatically increased in recent years, largely due to the rise of mobile phones and the fact that BRIS has become well-known for children and young people in Sweden. Changing habits, a new ability to talk unimpaired, increased frankness, willingness to talk about problems and, occasionally, sources of happiness, are resul- ting in increased pressure on our telephone switchboards. BRIS today 2 % Others/miscllers 2% H is a conversation partner for many young people, not simply a 8% 9% helpline which they mainly called when they were exposed to abitual Silent Statistically assault and abuse, as it used to be. calls recorded calls In reality the actual number of calls is probably several ca from children times higher than it has been possible to measure over . the years. For many years the increased call volume on our switchboards has meant that roughly only 50 per cent of calls get through direct. Accessibility appears 22 % Caller hangs up to be constantly decreasing: a survey conducted in May 2001, following our schools campaign aimed at fifth grade pupils across the country, showed that ac- cessibility was only 20 per cent. BRIS is therefore working on a new digital telephone system which will 57 % Nuisance/test calls improve access to our lines for children and young people. (See chapter 2: BRIS in a changing society). Fig 1. The spread of calls to the Childrens Helpline during 2001 (n = 187,486*) *n is the number of calls on which the figure is based Calls during 2001 consisted of: Statistically recorded calls are generally the longest, in which the counsel- lor has sufficient material to fill in a statistics form. The results are present in detail below. Nuisance/test calls are calls in which the BRIS volunteers are subject to jokes or insults, or those from which it can be assumed that the caller wants to test out whether BRIS might actually provide a worthwhile contact. Hang-up calls are those in which the caller hangs up immediately or after a short period of silence. Silent calls involve slightly lengthier contact in which the child still does not speak. From these calls, which constitute roughly 30 per cent of the total, no real information at all is available. Habitual callers: certain callers are recognised, often because they call re-10 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  11. 11. peatedly, often over a period of years, and tell the same story. (Simply ma-king test calls several time during a counselling session does not put thecaller in the habitual caller category). BRIS has managed to achieve a dras-tic reduction in the number of these calls during recent years.An in-depth study in 1999 showed that boys tend to be responsible for thenon-statistically recorded calls, a reverse gender division compared to the re-mainder of our records. In the statistically recorded calls boys only consti-tute a maximum of 30 per cent of callers, yet here they make up 63 per cent. In terms of content there does not appear to be any major differencebetween calls from girls and boys. Sexual insults and suggestions or ques-tions relating to the sexual experience of the person answering the call arecommon. Nonsense questions or statements are also common, together with sub-ject matter that relates to or suggests physical assault and sexual abuse. Worry, sorrow and sadness are very common feelings in the statistical-ly recorded calls from children, though hardly present at all in the othercalls, where an upbeat, provocative feel tends to dominate. Just as the statistically recorded calls to the Childrens Helpline reflectan important element of the everyday lives of children and young people,so too do the contents of the other calls. Callers speak about themselves,the abusive tendencies of their parents, about their friends, their love livesand the psycho-sexual development in which they are caught up. The difference, however, is that the attitude in these calls is expressed inmore provocative, sexually explicit language than is usual. The languageis cruder, the way of talking more antagonistic. (See also the 1999 BRIS report, “Other calls” section. The in-depthBRIS study no. 1/2000 can be ordered in its entirety from BRIS head of-fice.)BRIS statistically recorded callsto the Childrens Helpline, 2001The statistically recorded calls to the BRIS Childrens Helpline have dra-matically risen in number since the early 1990s. The sharpest increasetook place during the first half of the decade. In 1996 and 1997 there wasa marginal decrease in volume, followed by a steep rise in 1998, 1999 and2000. In 2001 the volume of statistically recorded calls was broadly con-sistent with the previous year, with just a slight drop in volume. On the other hand, the proportion of statistically recorded calls in rela-tion to the total number has gradually decreased since the mid 1990s andnow accounts for only 9 per cent of all incoming calls. In spite of this, they still account for more than two thirds of the totalcall time on the Childrens Helpline. The statistically recorded calls havean average length of 11 minutes, and are generally significantly longerthan the other calls. Over the years BRIS has traditionally focused on the calls we have beenable to process in our statistics. In the year ahead, to keep up with the dra-matic increase in other calls chiefly occasioned by mobile phones, BRIS in-tends to shift the focus of the collection and presentation of data relatingto all the calls which involve some form of dialogue and are not simplyone-sided.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 11
  12. 12. The increased use of mobile phones does provide children and young people with an opportunity to speak undisturbed to BRIS, yet also means that they test out the volunteer counsellors in a way which is both valua- ble and demanding. A survey in October revealed that 75 per cent of calls to the Childrens Helpline came from mobile phones and that these ac- counted for 91 per cent of the cost for calls. In 2001 there were 17,150 statistically recorded calls from children and young people, a decrease of 2 per cent compared to the previous year. A statistically recorded call is defined as one which provides sufficient infor- mation for a counsellor to fill in a statistics form. Personal details are not, of course, registered, but the form does contain information on the childs sex and age, domestic circumstances, what the call was about and the fee- lings expressed by the child, etc. Where applicable, information about per- petrators (in cases of bullying and other kinds of abuse), important con- tacts for the child and details of the time of the call, the date and who re- ceived the call are also recorded. Throughout our publications BRIS refers to the number of calls, not the number of children callers. Children and young people who call us are anonymous, a fact which makes it impossible for us to know how many children are hidden behind the statistics. We know that one child can ac- count for many calls, but also that several children can make one call (es- pecially from mobile phones). Previously, when we have attempted to chart the relationship between the number of calls and the number of children who call, results each time have shown that roughly 10 per cent of callers come from children who have called previously. The increase in the number of statistically recorded calls to BRIS over the past 12 years is as follows: 17 431 17 150 14 341 12 788 12 189 11 169 10 345 9 926 6 203 4 828 3 000 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Fig. 2. Number of statistically recorded calls from children 1991-2001 The flow of childrens calls is fairly evenly spread during weekdays, when BRIS usually receives around 60 statistically recorded calls per day during the four-hour duty sessions on the Childrens Helpline. At the weekends12 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  13. 13. the number of calls is reduced by roughly half. Average call length during 2001 was just over 11 minutes. However,call times vary according to gender and age: girls speak for longer thanboys, and the older callers speak on average almost twice as long as theyoungest children. 1 850 1721 1 709 1 652 1 572 1 610 1 447 1403 1 296 1185 1 066 639 JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DECFig. 3. Number of calls from children per month 2000(n = 17,150)The spread of statistically recorded calls over the months of the year variesfrom roughly 600 in July to three times this amount in May. Prior to longholidays the number of calls increases from children who live in familiesat risk of neglect, physical and sexual abuse. For these children, the sum-mer and Christmas holidays are hardly a welcome break from the every-day, but rather a time of suffering because exposure increases as adult sup-port outside the family is reduced, and when friends and other adults dis-appear on holiday. In a number of discussion articles BRIS has previouslywarned against removing the social safety nets and community care ser-vices during these holiday periods. In May BRIS runs its annual school campaign aimed at all the fifth gradepupils in Sweden, encouraging those who feel alone, bullied or ostracisedto call the Childrens Helpline, something which also contributes to the in-crease in the number of children callers.Who calls BRIS?All information collected and all incoming calls to the Childrens Helplinerefer to the child about whom the call primarily relates. This usuallymeans the child who actually makes the call, but occasionally it can befriends or siblings who call to express their concern. Calls in which thecaller was not the person to whom the call related account for roughly sixper cent of the total. Of the 17,150 calls from children and young people which were statis-tically recorded during 2001, 72 per cent referred primarily to girls and28 per cent to boys. Apart from a minimal increase in the proportion ofgirls, this gender division has remained the same over recent years.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 13
  14. 14. Childrens ages In 2001 the average age children to whom calls related was 13.1 years. This is exactly the same figure as the previous year, and only a marginal deviation in the average age has been noted in recent years: for a long time its has been between 13 and 14 years. This means that the majority of calls to BRIS relate to children of secondary schools age. 44 % 34 % 15 % 5,9 % 0,3% 0,5 % <7 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-18 >18 Fig. 4. Childrens ages in calls from children (n=15,319) Childrens domestic circumstances The children and young people who call BRIS and enter our statistics tend to live in their natural, nuclear families. This has been the case throughout the years, the percentages varying somewhat, yet clearly and constantly ly- ing under the average proportion of children living in nuclear families in the Swedish population at large. Natural nuclear family 60 % Natural lone mother 16 % Step-family 6,6 % Natural lone father 6,0 % Living with both separated parents 3,8 % Foster home 2,7 % Accommodation of their own 1,4 % Treatment centre/similar 1,4 % Others 2,1 % Fig. 5. Domestic circumstances in calls from children (n = 9,760) Other can, for example, mean that the child lives with a relative or in a friends family.14 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  15. 15. As in previous years, the figures for other types of family living are simi-lar for children callers: 16 per cent of the children who are the subject ofcalls to the Childrens Helpline live with a lone mother. Almost seven percent live in step families, and six per cent live with a lone father.Problem environments for childrenAsking the question as to where children callers feel the heart of their pro-blem lies, whether in their inner or outer environments, produces a widerange of answers. The most common answer for many years (in 40 per cent of cases) hasbeen that the problem can be traced to the inner environment, i.e. to thechildren or young people themselves. In almost three calls out of ten (27 per cent) the home is described asthe essential problem environment. These cases often involve serious pro-blems, in which the child, inside the family home, may be drawn into se-vere family conflicts or subjected to serious violation in the form of assaultand abuse. BRIS studies of perpetrators as described by children over aperiod of six years show that the home is the most common place for cri-minal activity against children and young people. School is almost as common a problem area asthe home. Virtually all children and youngpeople who call BRIS are at school du- Recreationring the daytime. The overwhelming 6,9 %problem at school is bullying, theproblem category on the Child-rens Helpline which is growingmost, and is also the most com- School Personalmon single reason to call. 26 % 40 % The spread across the variousproblem environments has re-mained largely the same over re-cent years. Home 27 %Fig. 6. The spread of problemenvironments in calls fromchildren (n = 15,719)How are problems affected by gender, ageand environment?Girls and boys: As in previous years, there appears to be more which unitesrather than divides the genders. Girls and boys largely call about the samekind of problems, but the statistically recorded calls relating to boys refersomewhat more often to bullying, sexual development and sexuality, andto physical abuse. Girls tend to call more often than boys about issues re-lating to relationship problems, sexual abuse and eating disorders. Almost as frequently as girls, boys do express their basic emotional at-titudes, but they consistently express themselves less in terms of depres-sion. Girls express low spirits, sorrow or thoughts of suicide more thanboys.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 15
  16. 16. Age groups: If we divide the calls from children into three age groups, the largest group comprises secondary school children (13 to 15 years). The second group comprises junior and middle school children (12 years and below), and the third group is older teenagers (16 to 18 years). Cer- tain differences can be observed: Anger, worry and feelings of guilt, powerlessness and self-destructive- ness (plus talk of suicide) increase in frequency with age, whereas low spi- rits is a somewhat less common emotion among those who are older. With regard to problem environments we see that school is the most common cause of difficulties for the younger children. As in previous years, 38 per cent in the youngest group put their major problems down to what happens when they are at school, whereas the school environment is a secondary worry for the older teenagers. On the other hand, the proportion of personal problems rises with age to more than 60 per cent in the oldest age group. The older the caller, pro- blems with friends and bullying tend to decrease. Calls about physical as- sault also decrease with age, whereas those relating to sexual abuse are most prevalent among secondary school children. If we look at the significance of problems in relation to the childs do- mestic circumstances, we can observe that almost two thirds relate to pro- blems in the home if the child lives either in a step family, with a lone father or in a shared custody arrangement with parents. This overrepre- sentation should be seen in relation to the overall total of 29 per cent of problems in the home environment for all calls from children. However, calls primarily relating to drug or alcohol abuse are more common if the child lives with a lone mother. Nature of the calls When children and young people call the Childrens Helpline, the call ge- nerally focuses on one category, e.g. bullying, love-related problems, or fa- mily conflicts. Occasionally the caller may touch on other problems or more positive matters, but the statistics used in the BRIS report only re- flect the primary subject of the call. However, the counsellor receiving the call also notes any secondary sub- jects of the call, e.g. the multiple risks which a number of children who call BRIS have to live with, including physical and sexual abuse and ne- glect. Yet this second ranking of problem categories does not involve any major shift in the recorded division between problem categories. It is also important to be aware that BRIS bases its confidence towards children callers on a basic principle, consolidated over 30 years of practice, of being the childs representative. The fact that the child can remain ano-Photography: Karin Nauclér nymous, alongside the principle that BRIS only acts on the instructions of the children or young people who need our help, is crucial to the rela- tionship. All this means that BRIS fundamental principle since it was founded in 1971 is based on the fact that it is not a public authority. Being an NGO and remaining separate from the work of authorities whilst acting as the childs representative leaves BRIS free to function as a voluntary supple- BRIS bases its confidence towards children callers on a basic principle, ment to the Swedish authorities and the statutory responsibility which consolidated over 30 years of practi- those bodies have. In spite of this it is a common misapprehension that ce, of being the childs representative. BRIS is a significantly larger organisation than it actually is, and also that 16 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  17. 17. BRIS is an organisation with the responsibilities of a public authority. It is true that almost all the counsellors working on the Childrens Help-line have professional or voluntary experience of working with childrenand young people, yet on the Childrens Helpline they act solely as a li-stening adult and the mouthpiece of the child.Statistically recorded calls to BRIS from children and young people during2001 related primarily to: Bullying 18 % Family conflicts 12 % Love/relationship problems 11 % Sexual development/sexuality and pregnancy 10 % Problems with friends 8,8 % Physical abuse 6,9 % Sexual abuse 5,5 % Drug/substance/alcohol abuse 3,9 % Identity and “life” issues 2,8 % Divorce related problems 2,6 % Information 2,2 % Psychological abuse 1,4 % Eating disorders 1,2 % Neglect 0,8 % Miscellaneous 13%Fig. 7. Problem categories in childrens calls (n= 17,111)With virtually the same ranking order, the division of problem categoriesis very similar to that of last year, yet it is worth mentioning that callsabout bullying continue to increase. This has been a trend for many years,and the bullying problem category has, among those calls which have lentthemselves to statistical processing, become established as the single mostcommon reason for calling the Childrens Helpline. In this years BRIS report the statistically recorded calls from childrenand young people are summarised in the text under themes, instead ofeach problem category receiving separate attention as in previous reports.The idea behind this is to show the bigger picture behind the calls, so thatBRIS will be able to spotlight the overall situation which the children andyoung people who call the Childrens Helpline convey. This approach is also a lead into preparations for increased informationon the total flow of calls which is due to begin during 2002, with nextyears BRIS report as its first part objective.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 17
  18. 18. Common themes on the Childrens Helpline Theme: Bullying The number of calls during the year relating primarily to bullying broke all records, finishing up at just over 3,000, an increase of 13 per cent com- pared to the year 2000. The statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of bullying calls in recent years: from 1998 to 1999 by 32 per cent, and between 1999 and 2000 the equivalent figure was 42 per cent. Over the years bullying has been the single most common reason for cal- ling BRIS, and its rise has been noticeable even during years when other levels of calls have been constant or have marginally fallen. The proportion of bullying calls has also increased: in 2001 they ac- counted for 18 per cent of all in-coming statistically recorded calls to BRIS. This compares with 15.5 per cent of the total volume in 2000 and 13.3 per cent in 1999. Who are the bullies? From the calls relating to bullying it appears that the majority are classmates of the victim. Classmates comprise 69 per cent in the perpetrator profile that children callers have presented to BRIS. Other pupils at school (15 per cent of the bullies) or other children of the same age are also fairly widespread bullies. Teachers or other school staff are cited in just over two per cent of calls. This figure may seem low, yet these groups tend to appear instead as per- petrators of sexual abuse, in which they have made up a high proportion over the years. In two per cent of cases, the bullies themselves actually call seeking help to stop their bullying. The gender split between the aggressors shows that boys alone are the bullies in 37 per cent of cases, girls alone in 15 per cent and boys and girls together in 48 per cent of cases. Compared to earlier information, there is a trend which indicates that bullying is more often being carried out by groups made up of both boys and girls. Boys are the most common perpetrators, yet also the most com- mon victims of bullying. In calls the BRIS, the victims often relate strong feelings of sorrow, powerlessness and isolation, which in longer and more serious cases of bullying can lead the victims into depression accompanied by thoughts of suicide. The feeling of not being accepted or good enough is a deathblow to self-confidence, as confirmed by almost all the children who call BRIS. Sometimes their feelings also include anger, but in the over- all context this is relatively rare. As in other cases of abuse and assault, the only thing the children on the receiving end want to do is to put an end to their suffering. A girl in her early teens calls BRIS saying that she is systematically called a “slut” by both girls and boys at school. She experiences this bullying as very aggressive and cruel.Photography: Karin Nauclér A boy in middle school says he has his head put down the toilet and is threatened by a group of bullies. He now finds it very distressing to go to school. A boys gets pushed over and smeared with dog faeces, but so far he has not dared to tell anyone other than BRIS. He says that he feels frightened and alone. 18 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  19. 19. A girl is ostracised from her group of friends because her mother is an alcoholic. Immigrant children speak of constant racist insults. An older sister is worried because her younger siblings are being hit by other children at school. Many calls speak of isolation which has been painful throughout their time at school. An 11 year-old boy says he stays off school as often as he can. He has been forced to seek hospital treatment for the physical injuries that bullies have caused him. A group of bullies call with feelings of regret. How can they get out of the gang they belong to? Perhaps they should talk to the bullying committee at the school?(Please note that the examples of calls from children in the BRIS reportare general, mixed together, or altered in some details to protect the ano-nymity of the child.)These are just a few examples from calls to the Childrens Helpline. Thechildren who call often cry, are resigned, or no longer want to go toschool, and some have lost the will to live. Virtually all of them feel somekind of shame at being selected as a victim, and many are unwilling toburden their parents with their problems. However, it is extremely com-mon for the children to consider that they themselves have asked for orgiven signals that they need help from a head teacher, teacher or othermember of school staff, yet that the adult world does not listen or carevery much about the effects of bullying. The action plans drawn up by schools to deal with bullying do not ap-pear to be working in these cases, neither does the schools responsibilityin terms of individual adults capacity to get involved in a constructiveway. From what the children tell us, BRIS often forms the impression thatschool staff would rather turn a blind eye through inability to act or a lackof civil courage, or that they may even hide the problem through fear thatthe school may receive a bad reputation. For this reason, BRIS feels that it is important for all adults concerned toreceive training in how to deal with the problem. On a broad front, preven-tive action against bullying in Swedens schools is particularly important. The fight against bullying requires systematic co-operation involvingpupils, school staff and parents. So as to promote training and to spreadinformation on how to fight bullying, BRIS anti-bullying expert, AnnChaLagerman travels around the country providing instruction to pupils,school staff and parents. During the year BRIS also took part in the nation-wide Swedish go-vernment campaign against bullying, Tillsammans (“Together”). The pro-ject has been primarily Internet based and aimed at secondary schoolsaround the country. So far around half of all schools have been contacted,and the goal for 2002 is that 80 per cent of schools will have received in-formation and details about the people they can talk to. At the BRIS.SE website, BRIS and the IT company Framfab have con-ducted an information drive against bullying. The initiative is linked to thegovernment project and aimed primarily at children and young peoplewith concrete advice and tips about what they can do and who they cantalk to if they want help to put a stop to being bullied. The site also has In May all fifth grade pu-much to offer to adults who feel the need for support and more informa- pils in Sweden were senttion about how to respond to bullying. From the website you can also e- pictures of adult celebritiesmail BRIS and discuss bullying and its effects. who had problems in their Moreover, for the fifth year in succession BRIS ran an information cam- childhood and upbringing.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 19
  20. 20. paign about the Childrens Helpline aimed at all school children in Swe- den in grade five who feel like outsiders, alone or different from others. The campaign features pictures of children - now adult celebrities - who experienced problems as they were growing up. Together with the adver- tising agency TBWA, BRIS has previously received the prestigious Golden Egg and Golden Key advertising industry awards for the campaign. Theme: Childrens relationships with their contemporaries We have decided to extract this theme from the statistics table, showing the proportion of calls relating to friends and love/relationship problems. Together they account for roughly 20 per cent of the statistically recorded calls, meaning that one call in five to the Childrens Helpline relates pri- marily to relationships in which adults are not a source of concern. During 2001 we received approximately the same amount of calls in these categories as in the previous year, yet a significantly larger propor- tion of calls than we can account for here concern childrens relationships with their contemporaries. Some of them come under the sexual develop- ment and sexuality problem category, yet even more, unfortunately, spring from the young perpetrators BRIS has been informed about in calls rela- ting to physical and sexual abuse. However, relationships of children with their contemporaries still appear for the most part to be concerned with friendship and love and the lone- liness and feelings of rejection which are their antitheses. Being alone, finding friends, how to be popular. How you should behave, how you should be treated, ethics in relationships between friends - these are im- portant issues to straighten out. How to be yourself despite strong group pressure, how to fit in, how to be “right” yet still true to yourself. Naturally, issues relating to unspoken, unrequited or unhappy love are also common, alongside questions of how to end a relationship, or what might subsequently happen. Problems of sadness, jealousy, sometimes also problems of forbidden love across cultural divides, and so on… Friendship and love problems/relationships have been frequent themes during recent years. For the younger group of callers to BRIS, relation- ships with friends can be the most difficult to manage, whereas love rela- ted conflicts tend to affect the older group. But life can feel equally despe- rate if your best friend has let you down as when the person you are in love with shows only indifference. A girl in her late teens feels completely deserted by her girlfriends now that they have boyfriends and a lifestyle from which she is excluded. She feels panic when she thinks about being alone, something she experienced when she was younger. A girl calls and says that she is in love with her best friend. She wonders if she might be a lesbian. She is afraid to speak her feelings to her best friend, but would still like to put her cards on the table. An eleven year-old girl is frustrated because nothing is the same since she and her best friend have fallen in love with the same boy. Friends in her class each have one special friend that they go around with, but suddenly she finds herself on herFriendship and love problems/rela- own.tionships have been frequent themesduring recent years. A teenage boy tells us: “My girlfriend doesnt want to snog with me. All my friends20 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  21. 21. have done it, but shes so special that Ill wait until she wants to.” Another boy is worried that his girlfriend is not so keen on him as he is on her. A 14 year-old girl wants to break away from the neo-nazi gang she has been involved with for a couple of years. Once she was assaulted by the gang and had to go to hospital, but she told her parents that she had fallen and hurt herself. Now she wants some concrete advice. A sad 17 year-old girl cries inconsolably and no longer wishes to live. She lives with her boyfriend who treats her with no respect and says that nothing she does is any good.The girl says that she has no support from anybody, not even her parents. Everyone simply tells her that she is being exploited.Love and relationship problems are a very common reason for callingBRIS, despite the fact that the Childrens Helpline is by no means a “love”line. The number of calls in this category increases with the age of the childcaller, making this a primarily teenage problem. There are many stories ofthe delights and torments of love, but also stories which by extension in- Love and relationship problems arevolve conflicts with friends, parents or a gang. It has also become more primarily a teenage phenomenon.common for boys to call about this traditionally “female” problem area.Theme: Childrens developmentThe heading “childrens development” primarily comprises the problemcategories of sexual development, sexuality and pregnancy, identity deve-lopment and life issues, together with eating disorders. The theme hasmany crossovers with relationships with contemporaries, yet the focus isstill primarily on the childs or young persons own development towardsadulthood. On the theme of childrens development it is mainly teenagers who call,and these calls make up around 15 per cent of the total number. Sexualdevelopment and sexuality are mostly concerned with the classic issues offirst experiences and a lack of experience. Starting your periods, develo-ping breasts or pubic hair. Masturbation and intercourse. Homo or hete-ro. What is normal and what will gain acceptance? The calls also reflect the pain of the life choices involved in having ababy or by having an abortion, but young people also call fairly fre-quently about existential questions relating to the pain of becoming anadult, issues such as choosing to remain single, being abandoned, or themeaning of life and death. A 13 year-old boy calls who is worried about the size of his penis. Its too small, he thinks, and now hes scared that he will be inadequate and have problems with girls in the future. A boy dresses up in girls clothes and says he want to have an operation when he can. He keeps his activities secret when hes at home, nobody knows anything about what he does or thinks. Another boy takes lots of tranquillisers. He says that everyone in his home town knows hes gay, and that means his reputation has been destroyed even with his parents. During the night he had been to the psychiatric emergency department at his local hospital to seek help for his problems. A girl calls who sounds somewhat lethargic. In a barely audible voice she says thatB R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 21
  22. 22. shes worthless, a nobody. She describes herself as ungrateful, feeling terrible, and mentions that she has injured herself on a couple of occasions. Claiming that she just puts on a front, acts a part, she asks for help.The call ended up in a discussion of life issues and the girl finished in a better frame of mind than she had begun. A teenage girl calls who “just” wants to talk to someone about life, about her pa- rents difficult divorce when she was small and her subsequent strained relationship with the father. And she has problems at school, too: what should she do when she finishes ninth grade? At the end, she was pleased to be able to “get things off her chest” and be given some advice from an adult. A teenage girl with an eating disorder calls and says that she feels awful and no longer wants to live. “Mum and Dad just think Im a nuisance.They say Im play ac- ting when I faint, and that all I have to do is start eating.” During 2001 calls to the Childrens Helpline about eating disorders rose by a third. Even though in the scale of things eating disorders are a problem area which few cite as their primary problem, we know that issues such as ugly and attractive, fat and thin, being the victim of bullying and other abuse, can result in secondary problems relating to anorexia and bulimia. Who am I? Am I good enough? Why should I carry on living? - these are frequently recurring questions. The most serious calls to the Childrens Helpline include threats of suicide or accounts of actual suicide attempts, and in these cases it is important to gain childrens confidence to forsake their anonymity so that emergency help can be called in. Theme:The Family According to calls to BRIS, the family can be anything from a danger area to an actual scene of crime. Children and young people call about every- thing from serious family conflicts to physical and sexual abuse commit- ted by a family member. Almost all cases of assault are committed in the home, as is the majority of sexual abuse. We have isolated these problems and produced separate statistics under the assault and abuse category. Theme: Family focuses primarily on the problem categories family con- flicts and divorce problems, which together account for roughly 15 per cent of calls. Family conflicts comprise a range of situations from the stan- dard quarrels about breaking free to conflicts of a far more serious nature. Family conflicts is a rapidly growing problem category, in which we also encounter a number of serious culture clashes with daughters from immi- grant families who are not allowed the freedoms to which Swedish born children are accustomed. Information as to who is actually involved is available in almost every call relating to family conflicts: One call in four concerns children who are in conflict with their mo- thers, yet a similar volume of calls concern children who are quarrelling with both parents. Reported verbal conflicts between children and their fathers are less common - 14 per cent of calls relate to tensions of this na- ture. All together, 71 per cent of these calls concern conflict between the child and an adult, and 14 per cent concern conflicts which the child claims are going on between adults. Calls about divorce-related problems such as access, custody and do- mestic circumstances account for only a small proportion of primary sub- jects in calls to the Childrens Helpline, but do occur as subjects in many calls as part of the overall situation of children callers. On the other hand,22 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  23. 23. problems arising from divorces are the single most common reason for Many calls are about childrens desi-calling the BRIS Adult Helpline - About Children (see the chapter on calls res to be able to see more of theirfrom adults on page 47). fathers The children who call about divorce-related problems often feel stress,for example, at not being able to meet one of their parents or movingaround against their will, or they may suffer from the fact that the parentsdo not communicate with each other. New family groups with step-parents and step-siblings are also an often unwelcome intrusion in theworld of children who call. The positive consequences of a more diffusefamily unit are largely imperceptible on the Childrens Helpline, yet child-ren who live in natural, nuclear families do also call the helpline becausetheir problems override the things that make them happy. Many calls are about childrens desire to be able to see more of their fa-thers, and for many years BRIS has underlined the importance of a childsright to both parents, and stressed that childrens views should be grantedmore weight in custody disputes. Children may often express themselves as follows: A 16 year-old girl tells us that she comes from a different culture. Shes not allowed to meet any boys. She has a Swedish boyfriend but has been beaten as a consequence. The family will decide who she can marry, and now shes afraid of being assaulted. Another girl is in a state of panic because shes been told shes to get married to a young man in a different country.The girl wants to stay in Sweden and get an edu- cation. She says that several of her girlfriends are in the same position, and shes upset that Swedish society does nothing to help them.B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 23
  24. 24. A boy calls because hes fearful as Christmas approaches. “Does everyone have to be happy then?” - Mum has to work, and that means Dad will bring home his drin- king pals.The boy has spoken to his Mum and told her he wants this to stop, but she says things will get better. “She always says that, but it never happens.” An 11 year-old boy who lives alone with his mother calls to says the court has deci- ded that hes not allowed to see his dad. He now believes that his mum has be- come a lesbian. She has also changed and turned nasty. She says she works, but he knows that shes unemployed and often goes to see the doctor. Perhaps shes ill, he wonders.The boy will try to take things further by talking to his mum and with a relative he trusts. A girl has divorced parents who have shared custody. Her mum is unemployed - “she just lies on the bed and drinks.” Dad shouts at the kids and “says bad things about Mum.”The girl did once speak to a psychologist who told everyone what she had said, so she doesnt want to go back. She doesnt want to move as that would make her parents sad. Theme: Physical, psychological and sexual abuse The calls from children received under this heading involve the most se- rious abuses that BRIS handles. Crimes against children account for roughly one third of the statistically recorded calls to the Childrens Help- line. Some of these calls involve the victims of bullying, but the most se- rious criminal acts against children are assault and abuse as they are re- corded in this section. The theme encompasses the problem categories of physical abuse, psy- chological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and drug/substance/alcohol abuse. All together during 2001 these accounted for slightly more than 18 per cent of the statistically recorded calls. Throughout its 30 year history, the campaign against physical child abuse has been a cornerstone of BRIS activities. BRIS was founded in 1971 as a direct response to the battering to death of a three year-old girl in Stockholm during the winter of the previous year. BRIS received sup- port from organisations around Sweden, and the pioneers of BRIS were known under an epithet typical of those times as “BRIS guerrillas.” From the outset BRIS was an organisation determined to represent abused children against authorities and a society which took no formal stand against physical punishment until the passing of an act in 1979 banning the smacking of children. “The exhortation: “Call BRIS - and well report them” resulted in an increase in reporting offences, and people began to realise that you actu- ally could report child abuse,” says childrens writer Gunnel Linde, who founded BRIS together with the campaigner and debater, Berit Hedeby. (You can read more about this in “BRIS 30 år”, a celebration of BRIS 30th anniversary available (in Swedish only) from Riksförbundet BRIS). Calls to BRIS and cases reported to the police have both continued to in- crease rapidly since the mid 1990s, yet this year BRIS has detected a slight dip which also applies to calls relating to sexual abuse. The problem ca-Throughout its 30 year history, thecampaign against physical child abu- tegories relating primarily to drug/substance/alcohol abuse and to neglectse has been a cornerstone of BRIS make up just under five per cent of the calls.activities. During the year BRIS has conducted an in-depth study of abuse, “Child24 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1
  25. 25. abuse in the eyes of BRIS and children themselves - re. psychological, phy-sical and sexual abuse against children”. The study concludes in the case B RI Sof the “multi-risk” children in Sweden that BRIS encounters daily, that ca- fö di e r rdjup BRIS fördjupningsstudie nr 3 • 2002tegories of abuse are not “one-offs”… “those who are subjected to sexu- tu ningssal abuse at home may also be bullied at school by their contemporaries,and a parent can both physically and sexually abuse a child. And it is hardto imagine a child being beaten or raped without this also involving psy- Barnmisshandelchological abuse.” ur BRIS och barns perspektiv The study also concludes how calls to BRIS show that there are many Om fysiska, psykiska och sexuella övergrepp mot barnways in which abuse can be inflicted on a child. It can be done with slapsand punches to the face and other parts of the body. Children get draggedby the hair, pushed and pulled, scratched or kicked in the stomach. “Everyday objects like carpet beaters, belts, vacuum cleaner pipes, bi-cycle pumps, metal piping, washing up brushes and rulers are used asweapons. Belts are the most common. Special items such as whips areused, though not so often as knives and razorblades. A knife can also beheated up and used to burn the victim.” The following examples are based on notes from our counsellors over In March 2002 BRIS will be publi- shing its third in-depth study intothe past year: child abuse. The report will be avai- lable (in Swedish only) from Riksför- A girl calls saying that she is beaten and threatened every day at home. She has bundet BRIS. bruises and is vomiting blood.The school nurse, school counsellor and teachers have known whats been going on for a year now, but have let it pass because her mother has told them that her stepfather (the abuser) is seeking help.The mother has said to her daughter that she cant leave this man, even though the abuse has been going on since the girl was eight years old.Today the mother also threatened the girl with a knife.The girl has walked out of the home and doesnt dare to go back. A friend calls about a girl who has been assaulted for the past nine years.The girl is afraid to eat because she vomits when shes been hit in the stomach. Shes been raped twice, the father may have been the perpetrator.The girl takes drugs and is also assaulted in her gang of friends.Wants to kill herself. Has said: “I might as well jump off the bridge to put an end to it.” She tends to move around a bit, stay- ing in different places, but her father always finds her and the abuse continues. A 13 year-old boy says his father beats him every day. He doesnt dare to go to school because of his bruises.The boy has no contact with his mother, but does have an older sibling who might be able to help him. A girl from the Middle East who is beaten by her mother. A month ago she had concussion. Hasnt told anyone.Would really like to move to get away from her mother, but doesnt know where to go and also does not want her mother to get into trouble.The father has moved out already. A girl who has reported her mother to the police for beating her since she was two years old. Since she filed the report shes been locked away in a dark room. “Is she allowed to do this?”The girl is now waiting to move to a foster home. A boy of middle school age who tells us his mother is assaulted by his stepfather is now afraid that he himself will be beaten. He doesnt dare to take any of his friends home. His mum has said shell get a divorce but nothing has happened.The boy decides for himself to move in temporarily with his natural father.The examples above confirm BRIS experience over the years: that the per-B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1 25
  26. 26. petrators of abuse are nearly always people close to the child, people who those children cannot easily avoid. The survey of abusers produced for the sixth year in succession shows that this phenomenon is also true in 2001, in which 85 per cent of perpetrators are family members, most common- ly fathers. Father 43 % Mother 16 % Both adults 14 % Known contemporary (not sibling) 8% Stepfather 6,6 % Sibling 3,2 % Teacher/ school staff 3,1 % Other known adult 4,0 % Others 2,1 % Fig. 8. Perpetrators of physical abuse cited in calls from children (n = 1,491) “Other known adult” may, for example, be a stepmother, the head of a foster home, or another known adult in the family. “Others” here is like- ly to mean someone unknown, but sometimes the perpetrators themselves are the ones who call. Contemporaries (including siblings) account for 11% of the abuse. The picture that emerges shows that 64 per cent of perpetrators are men, 20 per cent are women, and in 16 per cent of cases, the perpetrators are of both sexes. In terms of gender split for all perpetrators of physical abuse, 69 per cent of them are men, 31 per cent are women. Calls relating primarily to physical abuse: • relate more frequently to children who live with lone parents • in 80% of cases, the problem environment is the home (as opposed to 27% for all calls) • more than in any other calls, children express fear, anxiety and low spirits • in two thirds of cases the victims are girls In cases of psychological abuse the perpetrator / victim pattern is fairly si- milar to that of physical abuse, yet both adults are more often involved in the cruelty, fathers alone not so often. 72 per cent of perpetrators are found in the family, contemporaries (including siblings) account for 14 per cent. Girls are the victims in virtually three out of every four calls. The father has a mistress. He threatens his daughter that hell kill the dog if she tells her mother. A girls stepfather continually makes rude comments to her about her appearance and behaviour. She feels as if everything about her is wrong.26 B R I S R E P O RT • C A L L S M A D E I N 2 0 0 1