Children in danger: 2021 flags 43,000 situations of risk

Number represents increase of 3,416 cases since 2020

With the country focused today on terrible failings that led to the death of a three-year-old girl in Setúbal, media sources have referred to recent figures put out by Child Protection Services (CPCJ) showing a sizeable increase in the number of ‘situations of risk’ being reported.

According to tabloid Correio da Manhã, it is the police and schools that most report these concerns.

Last year, 43,075 reports were filed of children potentially in situations of danger. This represents a 8.6% increase on reports filed in 2020 – or another 3,416 children deemed ‘unsafe’ with those responsible for looking after them.

The principal danger cited was domestic violence – a context that this week has seen new horrors in the media of women gunned down by their ex-partners. In this context, however, it is of children abused by adults. Says CM, over 13,700 cases were flagged in 2021, closely followed by almost 13,000 cases citing neglect.

The age-group most in danger is that between 11-14 – making up over 26% of complaints received, followed by 0-5, which received just over 23% of complaints.

Other age groups (15-17 and 6-10) also saw between 23% and 22% of complaints.

Last year, 26,751 cases were ‘concluded’, with roughly half requiring no measures to be taken, and the other half involving various measures – a few involving the children being placed in residential care (just 75), or foster care (8).

90% of the situations involved measures which consisted of supporting the parents and other family members”, says CM – adding that 15,048 cases/ denouncements were simply archived.

As to the reasons for archiving, the paper states “it resulted from the withdrawal of consent for intervention”.

Intervention of child protection services “obliges parental consent”, CM explains, as well as the ‘non-opposition of young people aged 12 or more”.

A small percentage of children accompanied by child protection services have foreign nationalities, the paper adds – the majority of them being Brazilian (723), followed by nationalities from PALOP countries (African nations which speak Portuguese).


Dulce Rocha, president of the Instituto de Apoio à Criança has meantime been interviewed by SIC to stress how crucial it is that child protection services get input from local communities.

She explains that without information, authorities cannot act.

It is a “civic duty” to communicate concerns about children’s welfare, she said – advice that exposes today’s reports on the death of three year old Jessica as having been a tragedy evident in plain sight.

Neighbours have been speaking to reporters, attesting to the little girl having been serially neglected and even left hungry on occasions.

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