Yilan County ranked first among 22 cities and counties in terms of helping victims of child abuse, while Yunlin, Hualien and Nantou counties were at the bottom of the list, a poll by a local health magazine shows.
While the number of newborn babies has decreased by 20 percent in the past decade, child abuse cases have increased by more than three times over the same period, with about 20,000 children traumatized by abuse every year, according to Common Health magazine, that has been conducting city surveys for more than 10 years and chose child abuse as this year’s topic.
The magazine evaluated the performance of the 22 cities and counties on curbing child abuse based on 15 criteria such as executive ability, manpower and activeness, and separately conducted a survey on front-line child abuse social workers.
On executive ability, the survey showed that as many as nine cities and counties failed to do what the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) stipulates, which is that authorized municipal agencies and county/city governments must take care of a reported child abuse case within 24 hours after acknowledging or receiving the report.
The accomplishment rate for this task in Nantou County and Hsinchu County was between 60 percent and 70 percent, while that of Yunlin County failed to reach 50 percent, the survey showed.
On manpower, while in developed countries social workers usually handle 15 to 25 child abuse cases per person, none of Taiwan’s 22 administrative regions met this standard except for two outlying islands where populations are small, with social workers in Hualien County having to take on more than 230 cases per person.
The budget allocated for each child is as low as NT$50 in some regions, according to the survey on policy efficiency, while some regions have a budget of approximately NT$300 per child.
A separate survey on frontline social workers, on the other hand, showed that 90 percent of respondents have at some point in their career in social services been threatened, harassed, followed or attacked by family members of abused children.
Furthermore, more than 85 percent of those polled indicated that their working hours exceeded eight hours per day.
The academics at the press conference advised the government to establish a child protection database incorporating the necessary services and effective evaluation criteria, and to provide a more friendly working environment which offers social workers better pay, guaranteed safety and proper training.