Alliance petitions to draw attention to youth welfare

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 3

The Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare yesterday listed several problems faced by minors as it launched a petition called “one letter per person,” calling on the public to write to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to urge her to attach more importance to young people’s welfare.

Taiwan is the only nation where people cannot vote until they are 20, while other democratic nations have set the minimum age at 18, the alliance said in the petition.

About 10,000 child abuse cases have been reported so far this year, and at least 40,000 children suffer from long-time abuse and bullying, the alliance said, adding that the figure for campus bullying is also high.

It said that 77.9 percent of junior-high school students are forced to take an extra “eighth class” in the evening and 69.4 percent are required to study ahead of the curricula schedule.

Alliance secretary-general Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) said the eighth class was originally set up for teachers to instruct students who are lagging behind, but it seems to have become mandatory, as many teachers tend to teach new subjects during the extra class.

While corporal punishment was legally banned in 2006, about 35.4 percent of junior-high school students and 27.8 percent of elementary school students encountered physical punishment at schools last year, the alliance said.

According to Ministry of Health and Welfare data, about 200 people aged between 15 and 24 committed suicide last year, with 60 percent of the cases related to intimacy issues and interpersonal relationship problems, the alliance said, urging schools to place more emphasis on emotional education.

It also called on officials to relieve students from the burden of tuition loans, involve students in schools’ policymaking processes and install more entertainment facilities for children.

Taiwan is this month to deliver its first national review on its efforts to promote children’s rights in accordance with the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Five UN reviewers will be visiting Taiwan from Nov. 22 to 24 to examine the policies related to child welfare, the alliance said, adding that it will publicize the petition’s results on Nov. 17 and present the results of a survey about students’ rights to the UN reviewers on Nov. 20.