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Sat, Nov 20, 1999 - Page 4 News List

Child abuse on the rise in Taiwan

CHILDREN'S RIGHTS According to experts marital friction and unemployment are thought to be two of the main factors leading to child abuse on the island

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

On the eve of International Children's Rights Day -- and the 10th anniversary of the passage of the UN Convention on Children's Rights -- two welfare groups yesterday published investigations into the state of children rights in Taiwan, both of which indicated children still face a high rate of abuse as the new century approaches.

In fact, said DPP legislator Lai Chin-ling (賴勁麟), who is also president of the Taiwan Children's Rights Association (台灣兒童人權協會), 1999 has been the "year of child abuse." She said the results of the TCRA study -- an assessment of children's rights -- along with a study by the Taiwan Human Right's Association, indicate a rise of child abuse cases. In addition they commented that the abuse itself in many instances is becoming increasingly cruel.

The most salient cases for this year, the study found, were those in which parents killed their children before committing suicide.

In the first six months of this year, 11 such cases occurred due to marriage problems, unemployment and economic difficulties, causing the deaths of eight children.

This was the biggest disaster for children in the last year, said Ku Yu-chen (顧玉珍), secretary general of the Taiwan Human Right Association (台灣人權協會).

She said such tragedies showed that some parents look at their children as their personal property, and thus the decision as to whether their child has a right to live or die is one they fell they have a right to make.

"Thus, when parents find no way out, they figure their own children deserve the same fate," she said.

One well-known abuse case they cited was that of Lo Li-chan (駱力菖), 5, and his brother, 3, who were murdered by their step-father, but their bodies were found until one and half years later.

Ku also pointed out that the report rate for child abuse cases under the age of five was still low. According to the survey by the Family Service Center, only 18 percent of child abuse cases involving children under five are reported, which is far lower than that of other countries. In the US, and Europe, the percentage is over 40, said Ku.

This, they said, demonstrated a big gap between the actual occurrence of child abuse and reporting of such cases.

Following its third annual investigation into the Children's Rights Index, the Child Welfare League Foundation (兒童福利聯盟基金會) announced Taiwan has flunked three years in a row.

According to Feng, the Children's Rights Index adopts an evaluation questionnaire method and over 100 child welfare officials, legislators and social workers joined the assessment.

The average score fell even lower than that of the last year, according to Feng Yen (馮燕), the foundation's director.

In the evaluation -- in which a perfect score is five and a passing score is three -- the average score for is 2.69. The score in 1998 and 1997 were 2.72 and 2.63 respectively.

Frequent incidents of murder/suicide in families, and increased child abuse generally in the past one year, where the major areas of concern in the assessment of children's living rights.

The score for social rights -- meaning children's involvement in the formation of child welfare policies -- still stands the lowest, at 2.59. "This means children's voices were seldom heard by the government," said Feng.

Feng pointed out the results showed that Taiwan has a long way to go in order to meet with the standards set in the UN's Convention for the Children's Rights.

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