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MOI to act on child abuse legislation

MOI to act on child abuse legislation

The government will act on legislation to better protect the country's children from being victims of violent child abusers, Interior Minister Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said yesterday.
Lee made the remarks in the wake of recent reports of several shocking and horrifying child abuse cases, including the tragic death of a 6-year-old girl in Mailiao, Yunlin County who was beaten to death by her step father earlier this month.
The spate of brutal, senseless child abuse cases prompted the opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union to announce Thursday its plan to draft amendments to the Criminal Code during the next legislative session set to open next month to increase penalties for child abusers, particularly those who murder children.
Responding to the TSU's plan, Lee said consultations with the Ministry of Justice are needed in drafting any criminal law revisions, adding that the Ministry of the Interior will coordinate with the MOJ in exploring the feasibility of giving harsher sentences for those who commit abusive acts that result in a child's death.
In addition, Lee said, the MOI will collaborate with the Ministry of Education in pushing for legislation of an act on child care and education to further protect children from abusers.
Quoting an MOI study report, Lee said most of the perpetrators in reported child abuse cases in the past two years were the parents of the victims. Of the 13 fatalities in child abuse cases reported in 2006, six were committed by the children's natural parents; three by their natural parents' live-in lovers; and two by babysitters or someone entrusted with taking care of the child.
To eradicate child abuse and domestic violence in local society, Lee said, the MOI has offered systematic counseling services and special financial subsidies for high-risk families or those that have experienced domestic violence.
Besides offering mental health services, he said, the MOI has since last summer offered emergency living subsidies for children from high-risk or disadvantaged families.
Noting that child protection requires extensive participation at the grass-roots level, Lee urged apartment building management and security personnel, community volunteers and ordinary citizens to join surveillance and reporting of child abuse and neglect cases.
Lee further said that those who have children under 12 years of age in the custody of their divorced spouses should not hesitate to report to the "113" hotline if they discover evidence of abuse or have a hard time tracking their children's whereabouts.
To reduce incidence of babysitters abusing children entrusted to their care, Lee said the proposed child care and education law will stipulate that only those who have obtained proper licenses can engage in babysitting or child care services. Before the law is enacted, Lee said, the MOI will actively assist unlicensed babysitters in getting proper certification.
Taiwan now has only 1,071 social workers, far short of demand, which is estimated at more than 5,000 social workers, Tseng said, adding that the Mega-Warmth Project unveiled by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) late last year has only appropriated NT$10.6 billion for prevention of domestic violence and child abuse.
In the new legislative session, Tseng said, the TSU will push all relevant government agencies to set aside funds for establishing an efficient community online reporting system that will enable members of the public to report child abuse or domestic violence cases as soon as they spot evidence or witness one.