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More than half the minors sent to juvenile reformatories suffered repeated physical abuse from their parents and other relatives before their admission, according to a Justice Ministry survey released Thursday.

The ministry sent questionnaires to minors at 52 reformatories nationwide in July 2000. A total of 2,354 minors — 2,125 male and 229 female — responded.

Forty-five percent of male respondents and 60 percent of the females said their delinquency stemmed from the abuse, according to the survey.

Half the male pollees and 57 percent of the female respondents said they have experienced physical abuse, sexual violence or parental neglect such as denial of meals over an extended period.

Among male respondents who had been physically abused, 73 percent said the perpetrator was their father. Among girls, 42 percent cited violence from their father, while the same percentage said they had been abused by their mother.

The abuse was mostly suffered during their elementary and junior high school years, the survey shows.

Many of the respondents said they either ran away from home or simply endured the abuse, while others vented their frustration at others or became dependent on alcohol or narcotics.

Some female respondents said they tried to commit suicide or hurt themselves.

Asked if they had consulted others about their abuse, 56 percent of the boys and 82 percent of the girls said they had talked to their friends, school seniors, mothers or schoolteachers, the survey says.

“The survey indicates that abuse by family members can drive minors to wrongdoing,” an official of the Research and Training Institute said. “The problem is that the information about the abuse reaches the victims’ friends but not public institutions.”

Child abuse is a growing problem in Japan, with 18,804 cases reported in fiscal 2000, up by around 60 percent from the previous year.

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