• Kyodo

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Most families that have lost children due to child abuse did not have contacts often with neighbors, a government survey showed Wednesday.

Among 43 households whose children under 18 died of abuse in the year through March last year, a welfare ministry committee surveyed 29 households with which it was able to confirm whether they often had contacts with neighbors.

Of the 29 households, the survey found that more than 70 percent had few contacts with neighbors.

Among the 320 surveyed households with children who died from abuse between January 2004 and March 2015, around 70 percent had similar neighborhood relations.

The results indicate child abuse has taken place on the back of the isolation of those families from their local communities, the welfare ministry committee said.

Child abuse in Japan reached its worst level in fiscal 2015, at 103,260 cases, with incidents of psychological abuse surging, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Among the 29 households, 37.9 percent said they “hardly have” relations with their communities, and 34.5 percent said they have a few relations, while only 3.4 percent said they have “active” relations. Some 55.8 percent said they did not use public childcare support and 39.5 percent said they used such support.

Among the 320 households, 42.2 percent said they “hardly have” such relations and 28.8 percent said they have a few.

Local governments have promoted measures to address such isolation by visiting all homes with 4-month-old babies or younger since fiscal 2007.

But officials say it is hard to deal with abuse cases, as some parents try to avoid meeting them.

Jun Saimura, a Kwansei Gakuin University professor versed in child welfare, said fading awareness of helping each other in the community is prompting the isolation of families having trouble with child-rearing.

“What’s important is how to be in touch with parents. (Local government officials) need to establish trust … and expertise is necessary to provide assistance,” said Saimura.

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