Boy teenager protects himself

Heartbreak in Tavira as yet another child violently beaten by father

A week after the horrific story of Valentina Fonseca – beaten to death by her own father – another heartbreaking story of child abuse has hit the headline, this time in the Algarve.

It concerns a 12-year-old boy from Tavira whose condition reduced those who stepped in to help him to tears.

Covered in bruises – from his face to his genitals, stomach and back – the child said they came from his father kicking him repeatedly wearing steel-toed boots.

His mother apparently looked on, doing nothing to help.

The last attack left the child’s jaw so badly hurt that he couldn’t eat. Bruising was so bad he couldn’t stand up straight, he could barely walk.

He finally plucked up the courage to tell his aunt – and this is when the aunt, who knew nothing previously of the beatings, tried to get help.

By chance, it was the day volunteers were collecting food to distribute to needy families.

One of the volunteers was Janete Serrano, who instantly went onto social media to broadcast an appeal

Today, the child should – with any luck – be delivered into the care of his aunt.

But the story as it has been told this far is horrifying,

Said Janete Serrano, the father is known to be violent. People are frightened of him. He appears also to have attacked the child’s elderly grandfather, possibly during the time he was inflicting the injuries on his child.

Police when called by Ms Serrano on Saturday referred her to other command posts, other entities.

“The police don’t come”, she said numerous times in her emotional appeal picked up by online news services.

Fears were that once the child had been attended in hospital he might have been returned to his parents’ care.

“We can’t let that happen”, said Ms Serrano, who stressed she has contacted the boy’s teacher who in turn said he would be making a report to child welfare today (Monday).

Concerns of all those trying to help on Saturday was that Monday was still too far away in terms of the boy’s safety. Thus he remained in the care of hospital authorities, who told any reporters calling that the child’s condition was stable but “needed continuous care”.

Writes Correio da Manhã: “The GNR is investigating this case, The parents should be heard shortly, says the paper, adding: “The minor says he has been the target of aggressions for some time but only on Saturday plucked up the courage to tell a family member. The last attack will have taken place on Thursday”.

The boy’s future is being decided today by the Tribunal de Menores in Faro.

Said Ms Serrano, the aunt is adamant that he should not be admitted into an institution, but it may be that the court feels this would be more likely to ensure his safety.

The child is understood to have told his aunt: “I can’t take any more”.

Updates to follow.

Coming so soon after the horror stories from Atouguia da Baleia where nine-year-old Valentina Fonseca was beaten to death by her father – again with the apparent connivance of her step-mother – this case has traumatised the local population of Amaro Gonçalves, Luz de Tavira, for the simple reason people feel ashamed such horrors can take ‘behind closed doors’ within ‘perfectly normal’ communities.

Algarve news online Algarve Primeiro claims the parents are currently “in parts unknown” thus it is unclear how they will be ‘heard shortly’ by authorities.

The case is rapidly being picked up by television stations.

As we write, Janete Serrano will be appearing on a talk show run by TVI to describe how she came to blow the whistle on yet another case of child abuse when the country is still coming to terms with the awfulness of Valentina’s murder.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com