A record number of 21,603 cases of child abuse have been brought to child consultation centers by the police last year, according to the National Police Agency. The number increased by 31.8 percent from the year before, and a stunning 20-fold spike from over ten years ago.
“Growing public awareness” of child abuse may be the cause of the increase, said an agency official. Even neighbors, hospitals and schools have taken to reporting potential incidents. Under the Child Abuse Prevention Law, children 18 years old and below suspected of being abused may be reported to the authorities. In 2004, when the agency began collecting data on child abuse cases, the number reported then was 962. Ten years after, the number has surpassed the 20,000 mark. Out of the reported cases last year, 49.3 percent of the cases involved mental abuse, with 12,344 child victims. Most of the victims reported emotional abuse, as they were affected by domestic violence between their parents. 8,059 of these types of case were repotted last year, up from the previous year’s 5,341 incidents. Others reported verbal attacks from their mothers, who would say they wished they’d never given birth to the child. Additional cases reported around 6,150 children that were physically abused, and 2,960 who were neglected by their parents.
Out of all the cases reported, police had to intervene and arrest people in 467 instances. Out of the 467 cases, 334 were physical abuse and 16 were mental abuse. While last year’s number is still relatively lower than the previous year’s, the record is still the second highest since the agency began collecting data.