French child protection services warn of 'massive' abuse under lockdown

By Sophie Boutboul

As France this week stepped out of the public lockdown measures, lifted after two months during which families have been largely confined to their homes, child protection professionals fear the discovery of what one judge predicted will prove to be a “massive” rise in cases of abuse of children at home. As Sophie Boutboul reports, social workers, associations, magistrates and child psychologists are readying for a horrific count, including “invisible murders” of infants under the lockdown.

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Over a period of three days at the end of April, Nathalie (not her real name) persistently tried to get through to the 119 emergency hotline in France for alerting the authorities to cases of violence against children. But, she told Mediapart, it was to no avail. She wanted to report how the 17-year-old girlfriend of her son was apparently the victim of violence perpetrated by her brother. In frustration at not being able to reach an operator of the national hotline service, she contacted, via Facebook, the junior minister in charge of child protection, Adrien Taquet.