Sat, Apr 14, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Create agency for children and families, activists urge

WARNING SIGNALS:A KMT lawmaker proposed following Japan, where community-oriented family service centers identify problem families and intervene to prevent tragedies

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang, center, watches as Huang Yun-hsuan, executive secretary of the Children’s Welfare League Foundation, speaks at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The Children’s Welfare League Foundation yesterday urged the creation of an independent agency for children and families under the future ministry of health and welfare to allocate more resources and manpower to deal with the increasing number of social issues related to children and families.

“It really worries us that more and more parents are killing their children before committing suicide — so far, nine children have died in such cases since the beginning of this year, which is, on average, two per month,” foundation executive secretary Huang Yun-hsuan (黃韻璇) told a press conference at the legislature.

“The number of child deaths since the beginning of this year is more than the total for the whole of last year,” Huang said.

According to figures provided by the foundation, eight children were killed by their parents before the parents committed suicide last year.

Huang said that according to the foundation’s own statistics, a total of 149 children have died in this way since 2005.

“Forty percent of such cases involve economic issues, while 60 percent of the parents have problems with their marriage,” Huang said. “This shows that the government is incapable of handling the issue, and it may get worse after the reorganization of the structure of government later this year and next year, since there will no longer be an independent government agency handling child and family issues.”

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) agreed with the foundation’s proposal and said she would throw her support behind it.

“Right now, the government only passively responds to these problems, but we need to be more active in discovering potential problems and preventing tragedies from happening,” Wang said. “Therefore, I think there should be an independent agency for children and families under the future ministry of health and welfare.”

Wang said that government officials often say that they are unaware of potential cases until tragedies occur, even though there are often warning signals.

“In Hong Kong and Japan, they have government-run community-oriented family service centers that identify potentially problematic families and intervene to prevent tragedies from happening,” Wang said. “That’s what we need here.”

She said she has already proposed creating such an agency in the legislature and has won the endorsement of 40 lawmakers across party lines.

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