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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 30 - February 5  > Government should take drastic measures to eliminate child abuse
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2019 January 30 - February 5 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Government should take drastic measures to eliminate child abuse

February 5, 2019

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Another fatal child abuse case has occurred. A 10-year-old girl in Chiba’s Noda City was killed by her father using physical violence. Given that she sent an “SOS“ to her school before her death, something should have been done to save her life. Nearly twenty years have passed since a law to prevent child abuse was enacted. Since then national and local governments have introduced countermeasures in line with the law, but still many children fall victim to acts of physical and emotional abuse.

In 2017, child consultation centers nationwide responded to a record 134,000 child abuse cases. This was an increase of more than seven times from 18,000 in 2000 when the child abuse prevention law was passed. However, during the same period of time, the number of public workers who deal with this issue, “child welfare officers”, increased only by 2.3 times from 1,300 to 3,100, falling far behind the growth of incoming consultation requests. The government in its emergency measures plans to hire more child welfare officers, but the scope of measures and the speed of implementation is totally insufficient.

Child welfare officers have to deal with a complex mixture of tasks, ranging from placing children under protective custody and providing psychological care to families to building working relationships with the persons concerned. Specialized knowledge and experience are essential. Many of these workers experience job stress because their work entails experiencing a tense relationship with parents and sharing in the privacy of others. Under the government-set standards, the number of cases assigned per officer is limited to no more than 40. This upper limit is said to be much higher compared with other countries.

The child welfare officer job concerns the safety and lives of children. If they are overwhelmed by excessively heavy workloads, they cannot improve the situation. In dealing with an abuse case, early detection is vital. School teachers are expected to spot signs of abuse in students, but teachers nowadays are too busy to spend enough time to get to actually know the children. In order to improve children’s safety, it is important to address the structural problem associated with lack of teachers and large class sizes and implement meaningful measures.

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