Sunday, March 18, 2007


Monday, March 19, 2007
Rising child-abuse deaths draw national scrutiny in Japan By ERIC PRIDEAUX Staff writer

It is a routine feature on television news: Another child has been strangled, starved, beaten or otherwise fatally abused-- at the hands of the parents.

An endless stream of child-abuse deaths has exposed gaping flaws in the way Japan attends to its young. Equally routine but no less tragic is the fact that Japanese authorities in many cases knew the child was at risk but failed to intervene.

"Social workers are swamped," said Satoru Momose, an official at the health ministry's Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau.

To be sure, the scale of Japan's problem appears small compared with the amount of child abuse reported in other advanced economies. In the United States, for example, some 872,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Health's Administration for Children and Families. An estimated 1,490 kids died.

But smaller reporting levels are cold comfort in Japan, where problems are expected to worsen as the protective mechanisms of the past fail to keep up with the present.

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