While parents are usually seen as protectors of their children, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families found that among the 1,206 child abuse cases it handled last year, parents were the abuser in 1,031— or 85.5 percent — of the cases.
The fund also quoted figures released by the Ministry of the Interior, which showed that parents were the abusers in 10,054 — or 76.9 percent — of the 13,077 reported cases of child abuse last year.
“It's unfortunate that so many parents hurt their own children because of sudden emotional outbursts,” Miguel Wang (王明仁), the fund's executive director, told a news conference in Taipei yesterday. “We're worried that such cases may continue to increase because parents are under increasing pressure amid the global economic crisis.”
Wang said the fund had found that 64.3 percent of the child abuse cases it handled last year stemmed from a lack of parenting knowledge, followed by poverty and unemployment.
The situation has not improved this year. The fund said that of the 46 cases reported in newspapers in the first quarter, poor parenting skills, poverty and unemployment were again cited as the top three causes of abuse.
In one case, a father beat his infant daughter to death to stop her from crying; in another, a drug-addicted mother abandoned her two children; and in a third, a sleeping infant suffocated to death while the parents were having a meal right by the crib.
“On average, one child every 0.8 day gets hurt because of parental carelessness or inadequate care,” said Paul Shiao (蕭琮琦), director of the fund's social work department. “Many parents don't know how to take care of their children properly; some even use their children as tools to vent their emotions.”
Of the 46 cases reported this year, 15, or 32.6 percent, cited poverty or long-term unemployment as a factor.
“This shows that economic recession has a lot to do with the rise in child abuse,” Shiao said. “It's a serious issue and parents need some support from society to improve their parenting skills and to relieve some of their pressure.”
To avoid emotional outbursts, Shiao said parents could try to take 10 deep breaths and close their eyes to calm themselves when they are about to get angry with their children.
He also urged parents to seek help from social groups and to hug their children.