Abuse includes neglect or monetary exploitation as well as acts of inflicting physically or mentally and directly or indirectly suffering. The types of abuse are defined in many ways. When the types are largely divided, people abuse people or animals. Major categories of abuse include self-violence, abuse of the elderly, abuse of the disabled, and child abuse.
In May, an elementary school girl escaped from her house in Chang-nyeong, Gyeong-sang Province after being constantly abused by her step-father and biological mother for two years. This case of child abuse became known to the world thanks to a young man who found the girl at a convenience store. He immediately reported the abuse. Additionally, in Cheon-an, a boy in the elementary school lost his life while being abused by his step-mother.
Up to last year, with the highest number of reported child abuse cases reaching 30,070 in 2019, the number of child abuse reports continued to rise. However, the number of reports of child abuse earlier this year has decreased compared to last year. Compared to the same period last year, the rate dropped by 6.1 percent, according to the National Center for the Rights of the Child.
These days, due to COVID-19, lots of people cannot come out, so experts have posed that child abuse is taking place in blind spots. In other words, the victims could not get out of the house, making it difficult for them to be exposed to people around them.
Then because of the COVID-19, will child abuse not be revealed? Not really. First of all, concern in neighbors is important. In the case of child abuse in Chang-nyeong, the neighbor was unaware of the signs of child abuse for two years. It shows that there was little attention to this problem in the neighborhood. It is the beginning of attention that can prevent child abuse.
In addition, child abuse can be reduced by creating legally mandated child abuse reporters. Under the Special Act on the Punishment, etc. of Child Abuse Crimes, which took effect last year, certain jobs were designated to oblige workers to report known child abuse.
In the case of teachers or caregivers who have jobs related to children, they should immediately report to child protection institutions or investigation agencies if they are aware of or suspect child abuse crimes. Paramedics and medical staff are also required to report child abuse. Besides, positions required to report child abuse include social workers, sexual violence counseling workers, multicultural support centers, adoption agencies, and other workers in the occupational groups related to child welfare.
People in these positions must complete at least 1 hour of education through audiovisual or online lectures, or offline classes. Through this education, they learn about reporting procedures, preventive measures, reporting methods, and protection methods. Also, a fine of up to 5 million won will be imposed if a person liable to report a known crime does not report it.
The government revised the Act on the Punishment of Child Abuse by adding ‘child abuse officials’. The law is scheduled to go into effect on October 1st. Such legislation can reduce child abuse, but the attention of people around children is also important.