National

Some child centers and police in Japan are enhancing efforts to share information related to abuse

JIJI

Some public child consultation centers and police are stepping up efforts to share information about suspected child abuse cases after a spate of serious cases, while other jurisdictions remain cool on the idea, a Jiji Press survey has found.

Eight of 47 prefectures said their child consultation centers share information with local police about all suspected abuse cases reported to them.

Out of the eight prefectures, the governments of six —Ibaraki, Gunma, Saitama, Gifu, Aichi and Osaka — started such across-the-board information-sharing this year, according to the survey conducted between late August and mid-September. Centers in Oita and Kochi also share information with local police.

The central government drew up a package of emergency measures on child abuse following the death of 5-year-old Yua Funato in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward in March, not long after she and her family moved to the capital from Kagawa Prefecture. Her case made headlines as she was found to have left desperate messages in a notebook seeking forgiveness from her abusive parents.

The package calls for close information sharing between police and child consultation centers on suspected serious abuse, such as cases that have resulted in injury as well as possible neglect and sexual abuse cases.

A local government official that responded to the survey said, “Double checks with police help reduce oversights and prevent cases from developing into serious ones.”

When there was a witness report of suspected abuse in Aichi Prefecture, information in the report, including a license plate number, was shared between police and the child consultation center to identify the family suspected of abuse.

“It wasn’t a serious case, but we were able to confirm the safety of the child quickly in cooperation with the police,” a prefectural government official said.

Minor cases may later develop into serious ones that involve violence, and if police have information on specific cases, they can act quickly if any of the cases turn serious, an Oita Prefectural Government official said.

But the central government’s emergency measures do not require information sharing for all suspected cases between police and child consultation centers, as some are cautious about the idea.

Some local governments said information sharing for all suspected cases may lead to insufficient responses to serious ones, particularly in municipalities that handle many abuse cases.

The city of Saitama, which handled 2,656 child abuse cases in fiscal 2017, sees the need to establish an appropriate way to share information with police, an official said.

Jiji Press conducted the survey on 69 local governments, namely all prefectures and government ordinance-designated big cities, as well as other major cities with public child consultation centers.