A total 6,932 cases of child abuse were brought before the nation’s juvenile counseling offices in fiscal 1998, up roughly 30 percent from the previous year, the Health Ministry said Monday.
The figure is 6.3 times the number of consultations given at the offices in fiscal 1990, indicating that child abuse continues to rise.
“Because such abuse takes place in the home, it is difficult to grasp the actual number of abuse cases” in Japan, officials at the ministry said, adding that Monday’s figures were probably only the tip of the iceberg.
Experts said the reasons behind child abuse were often poverty, the lack of close relatives and neighbors to seek advice from, and a rise in parents who dislike raising children.
According to the survey’s results, there were 3,673 cases of physical abuse, including acts that left bruises or imperiled children’s lives, such as strangling or submersion into water. Such abuse accounted for 53 percent of the total.
Many of the cases involved mothers attacking preschool children, the survey showed.
Another 30.4 percent, or 2,109 cases, involved adults who abused children through neglect. This included cases where children were not given enough to eat or left without fresh clothes and other basic care.
The survey also showed that 9.4 percent, or 650 cases, concerned “emotional abuse” in which children were hurt in verbal exchanges, such as being told they should not have been born.
Of the total number of consultations in fiscal 1998, 20.1 percent resulted in victimized children being placed in shelters. But in 69.6 percent of the cases, the only action taken was interviewing and instructing the parents.
In nine cases, the abuse was so bad that the counseling office called on family courts to step in and take action. This was up from the three cases brought before family courts in fiscal 1997.
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