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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on Oct. 5)

All News 07:08 October 05, 2016

Children in danger

Concern is growing over children's safety with unending stories of domestic abuse. It is appalling that in many cases, the parents are the perpetrators.

The latest case of a child's death resulting from parents' abuse came to public attention Sunday when a middle-aged couple was apprehended on a child-abuse homicide charge in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province. Their 6-year-old adopted daughter suffocated to death after they tied her up with duct tape and left her alone for 17 hours. After she died, the couple burned the body and reported to the police that they had lost the child at a festival in Incheon.

In many such cases, attention from neighbors and communities could have prevented them. Police questioning found that the girl had not shown up at her kindergarten for a month, but the prolonged absence was not reported to the relevant authorities.

This means that the government's guidelines for children's absence is not functioning properly. According to the latest ones announced by the education ministry in August, staff and teachers are advised to contact their district offices after a child has an unauthorized absence of more than two days. After the contact is made, the social workers are supposed to visit the homes and report to the police or child protective services.

The police suspect that the couple burned the body to hide evidence of routine abuse. In that case the childcare facility is at fault for not having cared enough to notice that a child under their charge was suffering from violence at home. Such incompetent and irresponsible child care facilities should be subject to heavy penalties and be denied government subsidies. The negligence from communities is also regrettable. The girl's neighbors told the police that they could hear the parents hitting and swearing at the girl, but did not report it to the police.

The government needs to place more priority on protecting children from violence and abuse at home and school as such cases are on the rise. The latest Ministry of Health and Welfare report showed that 12,666 cases of child abuse were reported in the first half of this year, up 53.4 percent from 2015. A report by Rep. In Jae-keun of the Minjoo Party of Korea showed that 197 children under age 5 had been murdered over the past five years.

It is time for authorities, communities and schools to form a close network to protect children from abuse at home and school.

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