2/3 of severe child abuse cases never reported: Taiwan ministry

TAIPEI - In the past two years, there have been 29 cases of domestic abuse that resulted in severe injury or death, and two-thirds of the cases, or 19 out of the 29, were not reported to authorities before the victim's hospitalisation or death, according to Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW, 衛福部) statistics.

In a recent case of abuse, a three-year-old girl died at the hands of her aunt and her live-in partner in Hualien County.

Because the girl had not yet started school, teachers could not detect the abuse or report it to law enforcement authorities. There are no reports on record about her abuse or alerts about her high-risk family situation.

There were 11,589 people who suffered domestic abuse last year, and 2,626 of them were six years old or younger, Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛), the director of protection services at MOHW, said.

Among the 19 cases that were unreported, about 14 cases involved parental abuse or neglect. Four cases mirrored the Hualien case where relatives or friends were the abusers, Chang said.

She said young children and teenagers who lack the care of friends, family and neighbours are more likely to suffer from domestic abuse.

Situations where child abuse is more likely to occur include when one caretaker has a history of violence, when the parents are young or suffer from mental illness and when the children are disabled or premature, the director said.

The "113 protection line" is a 24-hour public consultation and information child protection service hotline.

Its purpose is to help bystanders rescue abused children and remove them from violent environments. Instant detection, communication and timely rescue will hopefully protect child victims, the MOHW said.