After collecting 187 child abuse-related news reports from this year, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) found that physical abuse was at the top with 36 percent, while sexual abuse accounted for 34 percent and negligent care 26 percent. The most stunning discovery made was that negligent care caused death 56 percent of the time, even higher than deaths caused by physical abuse, which caused death 45 percent of the time. These results make negligence the greatest cause for concern when it comes to child safety, so adults need to be careful not to leave young children unattended as it could lead to fatal circumstances.
TFCF executive director Miguel Wang says that out of the 27 children who died due to negligent parenting this year and had an average age of 4.4 years, nearly 60 percent were in accidents while they were left unattended. The top three causes of death due to negligence included drowning, suffocating and falling from buildings. When compared to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior, the number of children harmed or injured due to negligent care has increased by 31 percent over the past eight years.
Wang says that even though the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act stipulates that children six years old or younger are not legally allowed to be left alone or looked after by an unsuitable caretaker, many poor families are left with no other option but to let a slightly older brother or sister take care of the younger child, or simply leave the child unattended.
TFCF invited seven experts working in the fields of social work, law and medicine to select 10 major news stories related to child protection. Four of the stories selected were related to negligent care: the charred bodies of three young brothers holding on to each other after waiting to be rescued during a fire; a four-year-old who fell from a window on the ninth floor after getting through its metal bars; a week-old infant who drowned in a bathtub while the mother was tending to another child; and a two-day-old infant girl who died from exposure to the sun after being left lying naked on a tar road for 12 hours.
Liu Shu-chiung, a professor in the Department of Social Work at National Taiwan University, is highly critical of the government’s ineffective child protection policies. She urges the Cabinet to convene a consortium of social work and legal experts that would be responsible for coming up with more effective ways to protect children, and annually release reports of children’s deaths to hopefully remedy the situation by better understanding causes of death, the circumstances, and the problems involved.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)