Youngest children often hospitalized in critical abuse cases

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 4

Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital on Wednesday said that about 82 percent of children who were admitted to its intensive care unit (ICU) due to abuse were under six years old and nearly 60 percent suffered from head or brain injuries.

Reports of suspected child abuse have increased almost threefold in the past years from 19,147 reports in 1997 to 54,597 reports last year, the hospital said, citing statistics from the Ministry of the Interior.

Hsia Shao-hsuan (夏紹軒), director of the Pediatric Critical Care Division at the hospital’s Children’s Medical Center, said that from 2001 to 2015, the hospital treated 1,838 children and adolescents at its ICU that were suspected to have been abused.

He said analysis showed that on average five abused children or adolescents are treated at the ICU each month, nearly 82 percent of whom are under six years old and about 60 percent of which have sustained head or brain injuries.

Of the abused young people, about 85 percent of the critical cases were infants, 57 percent had sustained brain injuries, 25 percent were severely disabled and about 10 percent died.

Ou Liang-shiou (歐良修), a pediatrician at the hospital’s Children’s Medical Center, said the study also showed that there were slightly more male cases than female cases across all ages, but female cases significantly increased between ages 12 and 18, due to an increase in cases of sexual abuse.

Hospital deputy superintendent and spokesperson Huang Jing-long (黃璟隆) said the child abuse report rate in the US is about 17 per 1,000 people, but the rate is only about 3 per 1,000 people in Taiwan, which could mean that many cases are not reported and many children are not put under protection.

People who commit child abuse often claim the behavior was an accident, Huang said, adding that studies have shown that school teachers, social workers and healthcare professionals also have difficulty telling accidental injury from intentional abuse.

People should call 113 or 110 to report suspect child abuse if they often hear children crying or notice other signs of possible mistreatment, Huang said.