According to statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior, the nation's birth rate has dwindled since 2000. However, the number of cases of child or teenager abuse and neglect began to rise over the same period. In 2000, there were 6,059 cases of child and teenager abuse. The number climbed to 7,837 last year, with an average of 21.5 people found to have been abused on a daily basis. In other words, a case of child abuse was reported every 1.1 hours. As bad as those numbers are, they are likely only the tip of the iceberg.
The Children and Juveniles Welfare Law (
As a pediatrician, I and several other professionals in May put together a guide to help coach medical workers on how to engage in child abuse prevention programs. I also plan to invite pediatric clinicians and nursing staff, social welfare organizations and legal experts to jointly compile the nation's first manual on child abuse and the neglect by medical workers and use it as a basis for the government and hospitals to plan training programs on child abuse prevention.
The contents of the manual were discussed and compiled by 32 researchers and reviewed by a host of professionals and medical workers at a grassroots level. We completed a draft manual and held a press conference on Oct. 20 at National Taiwan University Hospital to explain to the public the program's goal.
Most of the attendees at the press conference were nurses and social workers, and only a small number of doctors showed up.
In fact, there were only six in all -- four of them pediatricians. The total number of attendees was far less than those who have attended symposiums connected with medical workers' rights or the nation's overall medical system.
Doctors are supposed to protect children in order to fulfill their social responsibility. With such a commitment, the general public can entrust their health needs and lives to doctors. Over the years, as a result of rapid changes in society and the implementation of the universal health insurance system, the medical profession has changed dramatically.
Therefore, we want to urge the nation's doctors to consider the issue of child abuse from a different perspective, and play a useful role in ensuring our children's safety.
Lee Ming-liang is a former director-general of the Department of Health.
TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG