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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 3)

All News 07:03 January 03, 2018

Curbing child abuse
: Violence from parents on the rise

A series of child abuse cases has triggered public rage over the holiday season.

Many people have been appalled by the tragedy of the five-year-old girl named Koh Jun-hee, who was recently found dead on a hillside in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, after her father reported her as missing nearly a month ago. The police found the girl had been beaten by her father around the time of her death.

The father recently confessed to dumping the girl's body in April 2017, claiming she died after choking on food. Further investigation will be needed to confirm his assault led to the girl's death, but it is evident the girl had faced repeated abuse and neglect at home. The police have not ruled out death from physical abuse as the girl had two surgeries for head and forehead injuries.

Amid keen public attention on this case, another case of child abuse surfaced in the media, this time involving a mother in her early 20s and the suspicious deaths of her three young children. On Dec. 31, the three children, aged 15 months, 2 and 4, died in a fire while sleeping in their room at their home in Gwangju. The mother sustained burns on her hands and feet. The previous night, the mother had left home around 7 p.m. for drinks and the children's father also left home to go to an internet cafe, leaving the children alone until 1:53 a.m.

According to the police, the mother fell asleep with her youngest in her arms after putting out a cigarette on a blanket, which started the fire. The police found that the mother and the father of the children, who recently divorced but continued to live together, often fought over the children.

Her inconsistent testimony has raised the suspicion she may have deliberately started the fire. She was arrested on charges of involuntary manslaughter and negligence.

The similarity in both cases is that the parents were the perpetrators of abuse. It is worrisome that cases of abuse have been on the rise in recent years. A recent report showed the number of reported cases of child abuse increased significantly from 6,400 in 2012 to nearly 18,600 in 2016. What is shocking is that 76 percent of all reported child abuse cases were caused by the parents. Deaths from child abuse have also been on the rise. Perpetrators of all forms of child abuse should be subject to severe punishment. Also, parents need to be better educated on how to treat their children and protect them from abuse.

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