Most abuse cases involve youngsters under 11, report shows

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 December, 2011, 12:00am


Children under the age of 11 continue to be the most vulnerable to child abuse in the city.

In announcing its annual statistics yesterday, Against Child Abuse said about 70 per cent of cases handled in the past year involved those under 11.

The organisation handled a total of 878 child abuse cases last year, an increase of 20 per cent compared with 10 years ago. It defines child abuse as physical abuse, leaving children unattended, sexual abuse and psychological abuse.

Against Child Abuse director Jessica Ho Oi-chu said: 'Young children are not capable of protecting themselves from abuse. Relatives, neighbours, teachers and social workers play an important role in preventing them from being beaten or psychologically traumatised.'

The government should set up a standardised system to record child abuse cases as there were often discrepancies between figures compiled by different departments, making it difficult for policy formulation, Ho said yesterday.

She said opening a sex offenders database was an encouraging development, although Hong Kong still lagged behind other developed countries in tackling the problem.

'In the United States, there are databases for people in one neighbourhood to check whether any neighbours are sex offenders,' she said.

Under the current system which started on Thursday, employers from organisations or companies whose business involves children or mentally-challenged people can use a service to check if a job applicant has been convicted of a sexual offence. But the inspection is not mandatory.

The government said the system would be reviewed in about six months when officials would consider whether to make the scheme mandatory.

As of yesterday, 150 people had applied for access to the sex offenders database, a police spokesman said.