Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Lawmaker urges harsher penalties for child abuse

Staff writer, with CNA

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker has proposed an amendment to increase the punishment in cases of child abuse that lead to death.

Abusers who cause the death of a child should be subject to the death penalty or life imprisonment, said Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉), adding that the number of child abuse cases nationwide increased from 7,800 in 2004 to more than 19,000 last year.

In the past three years, 35 children and teenagers have died as a result of abuse, he said, citing statistics from the Ministry of the Interior. During that period, there were 1,600 cases of child abuse and one death each month on average, Chiu said.

He proposed an amendment to raise the age under which the law protects children from 16 to 18 years and to allow sentences of seven years to life in child abuse cases involving serious bodily harm.

The proposed revision would also make it mandatory for offenders to receive psychological treatment if their evaluation reports suggest the possibility of recidivism.

Prosecutor Chang Chun-hui (張春暉) said the Ministry of Justice has agreed to allow stricter penalties for such offenders and it will present opinions on the penalties after consulting experts and reviewing relevant regulations.

People who constantly abuse children are often considered mentally ill, so the justice ministry will support amendments to help offenders receive treatment, Chang said.

In response, Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛), director of the Ministry of the Interior’s Child Welfare Bureau, said the statistics showing an increasing number of child abuse cases can be attributed to improved reporting of such cases by schools and hospitals. An increase in the number of social workers employed by local governments to conduct home visits has also contributed to a higher number of cases of child abuse being reported, she said.

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