There were 732 cases of problematic sex-related conduct between children involving 1,371 disadvantaged individuals at care facilities in fiscal 2017, a welfare ministry survey said Friday.

In the government’s first fact-finding survey on the matter, the ministry will analyze the background of the cases to draft preventive measures.

The sexual conduct included both specific acts, such as sexual intercourse, and ambiguous acts, namely sexual activity devoid of physical contact, such as the taking of nude pictures.

Experts on the issue are concerned about the potential for sexual violence at such facilities, given the residents’ difficult backgrounds, which may include parental abuse. Although the child welfare law stipulates acts of violence committed by staffers at such facilities must be reported to their municipal governments, the reporting of child-on-child violence is not mandatory. So the reality of sexual violence at care homes is not well understood.

At the end of March 2018, there were some 600 homes nationwide housing 25,000 orphans and other children in need of protection.
For the survey, conducted between January and February this year, four types of facilities were checked: homes for children in danger, temporary custody facilities at child consultation centers, foster parents’ homes, and “family home” group foster facilities.

In the first category, which included orphanages and similar facilities, there were 687 problematic child-on-child sex-related incidents involving 1,280 residents. For the other three, the numbers came to 34 cases and 74 children at temporary custody facilities, seven cases and 10 children at foster parents’ homes, and four cases and seven children at group foster facilities, the survey said.

The ministry set up a panel in October last year to consider questions for the survey and analyze the results.

In a report based on the outcome, the panel called for increasing the number of smaller facilities and foster parents to ensure residents will receive an appropriate upbringing.

“We also need to prepare a support system and improve expertise for this,” the panel added.

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