About 9 percent of mothers rearing preschool children repeatedly abuse them by beating or denying them necessary care, according to a survey released Wednesday by a Tokyo-based social welfare organization.
According to the survey, conducted by the Center for Child Abuse Prevention in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, abuse is much more prevalent among women whose husbands do not share household chores and child rearing.
The survey was conducted from January to February on 500 mothers of children up to six years of age, at 27 locations in Tokyo.
The surveys, which were given directly to the women, elicited responses from all of them.
It was the first survey in the nation conducted on mothers who have not visited child counseling centers.
Pollees were asked 17 questions, including whether they feed children properly, bathe them, give them clean clothes, scold them in a loud voice, or beat them.
One of three levels of abuse was ascribed to each response and were calculated according to frequency.
As a result, 44 out of the 500 mothers were found to have abused their children, and 150 of the remaining 456 were found to have a tendency to abuse them.
The frequency of child abuse was three times more prevalent among mothers whose partners did not help them take care of their children.
About one in every five mothers said that they had nobody to help them raise their children.
The survey was analyzed by a group of researchers. One of them, Eiichi Senoo of the Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, an affiliate of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, said the survey was preliminary and that further research is necessary to determine the factors that cause mothers to abuse children.
The center’s officials submitted the results to the Health and Welfare Ministry later Wednesday, calling for more social assistance for mothers with young children.
They said that the ministry should take measures swiftly to cope with the rising incident of child abuse.
Sayoko Nobuta, director of the Harajuku Child Counseling Center in Shibuya Ward, said that she thinks the survey results properly reflect the current situation.
According to the health ministry, child abuse cases have been increasing considerably.
Child counseling centers nationwide dealt with 2,061 cases during a half-year period from April 1996 — nearly double the caseload of a six-month period in 1988, health ministry officials said.
In fiscal 1997, 5,352 consultations and complaints were sent to child counseling centers nationwide, they said, adding that the abusers were mothers in more than 50 percent of the cases.
Child abuse includes physical, psychological and sexual abuse, negligence and withholding indispensable care needed for sound growth.