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S. Korea moves to strengthen punishment for abusive parents

All News 16:59 July 29, 2020

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean plans to mandate tougher punishment for parents who abuse their children and provide a safety net for at-risk children, the education ministry said Wednesday.

As part of the measures, the government plans to scrap a decades-old law that allows people with parental rights to physically punish their children. Article 915 of South Korea's Civil Act indicates that "person of parental authority may, in order to protect or educate his or her child, take necessary disciplinary action against the child."

The law, legislated in 1958, has been a source of controversy, with critics claiming it may prompt parents to consider children as their "possession" and justify child abuse.

In addition to scrapping the law, the government plans to run a campaign on preventing child abuse and launch a taskforce to review stronger punishment for abusive parents.

An illustration depicting Article 915 of South Korea's Civil Act, which stipulates that parents may take necessary disciplinary action to protect or educate their children. (Yonhap)

To protect children, the government plans to introduce a policy that would grant public servants the right to separate children from their parents.

In addition to the legal changes, the government plans to assign public servants looking over child abuse issues and build a more comprehensive system so that relevant government agencies and schools can share information on at-risk children.

The latest measures come after several brutal child abuse cases shocked the nation.

A 9-year-old with burned fingers and severe bruises who was found by a neighbor turned out to have been abused by her stepfather and mother at home, while another 9-year-old died after being locked in a suitcase by his father's girlfriend.

President Moon Jae-in urged officials to look into the country's child welfare system and detect children in need, mentioning how spending more time at home due to the new coronavirus may expose to them more abuse.

A man attends a hearing at the Miryang branch of the Changwon District Court in Miryang, 386 kilometers south of Seoul, on June 15, 2020, on allegations of abusing his step daughter. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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