Thu, Jan 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Most toddler abuse cases unreported, civic group says

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cases of children younger than five being abused are less likely to be reported than those involving older children are involved, which means the official number of child abuse cases might be greatly underestimated, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families said yesterday.

Johnny Chang (張緡鏐), a specialist in the organization's social work department, told a press conference that 20.53 percent of the child abuse cases handled by the foundation from 2001 until last year involved children under the age of five.

Chang said that school teachers report many of these cases, but since children under five do not attend school, there is no way of determining whether these children are being abused, unless neighbors or relatives report it.

The foundation's figures from 2001 until last year indicate that 35.95 percent of abuse cases centered around a lack of care and neglect of the child, while 22.57 percent involved physical harm, Chang said.

The statistics also indicate that 81 percent of the culprits in the reported cases were the victim's parents.

He said that the primary reason behind abuse cases stemmed from parents' lack of knowledge of how to deal with their children.

"Many younger or less experienced parents resort to yelling and beating their children when they make mistakes, instead of educating through the mistakes they have made," Chang said.

Child abuse also tends to occur in broken marriages, when the anger that parents feel for each other is often channeled to the child, Chang added.

A lack of support from relatives and friends, economic problems and emotional instability are also factors in abuse cases, Chang said.

Betty Ho (何素秋), the foundation's deputy executive director, said that by drawing attention to these factors, the foundation hopes to raise public awareness, so that more children can be helped.

Ho said that if neighbors were more involved with each other, more could be done to prevent the abuse of young children.

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