Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Children fear abuse, poll finds

PERSISTENT PROBLEM A year after a four-year-old girl was beaten to death by her drunken father, a survey found that most of the nation's kids fear similar treatment


In a report released yesterday by a children's organization, more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were worried that they would become victims of domestic abuse -- a finding the group said was a sign of the government's failure to deal adequately with child abuse.

The survey results were announced yesterday by the Child Welfare League Foundation to mark the one-year anniversary of an incident in which a 4-year-old girl surnamed Chiu was beaten by her drunken father and later died from her injuries

This incident remained fresh in the minds of 80 percent of the children surveyed.

Alicia Wang (王育敏), the foundation's executive director, said that most children surveyed were worried that they would be the next Chiu, and that 83.1 percent believe that the aggressors in such incidents should be held responsible for their actions.

Almost 53 percent believed that child abuse is everybody's responsibility and 40 percent thought that the government is not doing enough to protect children, Wang said.

TV talk show host Chen Feng-hsin (陳鳳馨) questioned why 11 percent of the children in the survey answered that children are responsible for the abuse they receive.

"These children may already be victims of domestic abuse, and they are threatened by their parents into believing that they are beaten because they've done something wrong," Chen said.

Wang said that according to the Ministry of Interior's Children's Bureau figures, reports of child abuse surged last year to 9,974 cases, compared with 7,837 cases reported the previous year.

At least 33 children died from abuse or from "accompanying" their parents' suicides, according to foundation figures.

Attitudes toward abuse

* The incident in which a four-year-old girl was beaten to death remains fresh in the minds of 80 percent of those polled

* 83.1 percent believe that the aggressors in such cases should be held responsible for their actions

Source: Child Welfare League Foundation

"The surge in numbers could indicate an increase in actual child-abuse cases, but it may also be because more cases are being reported," Wang said.

Wang said that she was also concerned about the insufficient budget the government set aside for protecting children.

The child-protection budget accounts for only 10 percent of the total social welfare budget, or a mere NT$80 million (US$2.5 million), Wang said.

In addition, the number of social workers dealing with child-protection issues is insufficient, Wang added.

On average, one social worker is assigned to 72 child-abuse cases in Taiwan, while in the US, a social worker is assigned to only 20 to 25 cases, Wang said.

In response to the conference, ministry officials said that a committee for the protection of children and domestic-violence prevention was established last month comprised of academics and specialists from all fields to address the child-abuse problem.

The ministry has also encouraged local governments and civic groups to employ more social workers, officials said.

The survey was conducted from Dec. 15 to Dec. 26 and targeted elementary and junior high school students throughout the country. A total of 2,778 children were surveyed.

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