Child abuse in Japan hits worst level on record, rising by 16 per cent as psychological cases soar

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 August, 2016, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 2016, 3:00pm

Child abuse in Japan reached its worst level on record in the 2015 fiscal year, with the number of cases handled by welfare officials surpassing 100,000 for the first time, a government survey showed Thursday.

Psychological abuse, such as children’s witnessing of domestic violence, showed a notable increase. Experts say growing income inequality and isolation of families from local communities are raising the risk of spousal abuses.

A total of 103,260 cases were handled at child consultation centres nationwide in the year through March 31, up 16 per cent from the year before and marking the 25th consecutive annual increase since the government started taking tallies in fiscal 1990, according to the preliminary report.

The number of psychological abuse cases made up nearly half of the total with 48,693, soaring 25 per cent from 38,775 cases reported the year before, followed by 28,611 cases of physical abuse, 24,438 cases of neglect and 1,518 cases of sexual abuse, the survey said.

The results also highlight the overwhelming workload of the country’s roughly 200 child consultation centres that respond to children in need of help. Workers who had handled 36 abuse cases that resulted in children’s deaths in fiscal 2013 were found to have been in charge of 109 cases a year on average.

Japan amended laws in May to involve a full range of specialists in handling abuse cases and set a target to employ 550 more child welfare officials by fiscal 2019.

The Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry also created a fresh three-digit child abuse hotline in July last year in place of the previous 10-digit number for convenience. It said the number of consultation calls made last fiscal year nearly tripled from the previous year to 29,000.