Since 2008, a total of 159 children have either been abused to death or killed by their parents, the Child Welfare League Foundation said yesterday at its launch of a new child abuse prevention campaign, titled: “Orange Ribbon.”
A girl was tossed into boiling water in 2009, a boy was fed toxic drugs and physically abused in 2011 and an infant’s limbs were twisted and its head beaten last year. These were just three widely reported fatailities among the many child abuse cases.
The foundation said that last year alone, the number of deaths resulting from child abuse and guardian’ suicides was 35, the highest in the past few years.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s data show that the number of child abuse reports and the number of cases that were brought to court increased by 67.1 percent and 39.9 percent respectively from 2008 to last year.
“The most heart-wrenching fact is that the age group that has been most easily seriously hurt or killed is children below six,” foundation chairwoman Joyce Feng (馮燕) said.
Of the 68 children who were abused to death during the period, 46 were aged between zero and three and only three were older than six, the foundation said.
Almost half of the 91 children who died as part of their parents’ suicide attempts were younger than six and a quarter of them had not reached three.
However, physical abuse cases have a different distribution.
The ministry’s data indicate that the number of abused children between the ages of 12 and 15 has been the highest of all age groups, followed by those between nine to 1 2 and 15 to 18.
The foundation said it might be because puberty raises the chances of parent-child conflict, but it might also be that younger children have fewer means to reach out for help and attention, resulting in more cases recorded, meaning that there may be a silent “dark figure” of abuse.
Of the 159 child abuse deaths, 91 involved cases where the parent or guardian “killed the child, before taking their own life,” the foundation said.
Parents should not see the children as their personal property or consider abuse as “punishment,” Feng said.
“We should pay heed to all the children around us, even if they’re not our own, to prevent tragedy from happening,” she said.