Abuse claimed the lives of 16 children from January through March, up by six from the same period last year, with the total number of reported victims rising by 14 to 53, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Of the 16 deaths, nine were classified as murders, six as deaths resulting from injury, unchanged from last year, and the remaining one as parental negligence, also unchanged, the agency said.

In the quarter, police nationwide investigated 53 child-abuse cases, which involved victims aged up to 17, according to the agency.

Of these, 36 were cases of physical abuse, up six from the same period last year, followed by 11 cases of sexual abuse, up by seven, and four cases of neglect or rejection, such as refusal to provide food, down by one.

By age, 33 of the victims were 6 or younger and 10 were under 1 year old.

The abusers of the 53 victims numbered 57, 23 of whom were the mothers, 11 the men living with the mothers, and 10 stepfathers, according to the police.

As for reasons given for abusing children, 13 of the perpetrators said they did it because the victims would not do as they were told, and seven said they acted to discipline the children, according to the agency.

In the city of Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, a stepmother, the parents of the stepmother and her grandfather were arrested for beating and kicking a 3-year-old boy to death in April.

The boy’s father was also arrested on suspicion of parental negligence.

The boy, who died from head injuries in February, was emaciated due to malnutrition and had incense burns and other bruises all over his body.

In the town of Taketoyo, Aichi Prefecture, a man was arrested in January after he allegedly put his live-in girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son into a boiling water bath, causing serious burns on their legs.

The man reportedly told investigators that he injured the victims because they touched his pet hamster.

In Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, a 19-month-old boy died in February after allegedly being thrown against a wall by his 17-year-old mother because she became angry when he wouldn’t eat.

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