The government should put in more efforts and resources to deal with the problem of child abuse, a children’s rights group said on Thursday, adding that the focus should be on early prevention.
Establishing a review mechanism for existing serious abuse cases, paying visits to families with newly born babies and offering guidance to parents on matters related to disciplining of children are some of the initiatives needed, said Against Child Abuse, a non-government agency in Hong Kong.
Preventive action is always better than finding ways to tackle a case once the abuse has taken place, said Dr. Jessica Ho, director of the rights group.
According to statistics released Thursday, the agency received a total of 1,490 calls in the year ended March this year, an increase of 45 compared to the previous year.
The calls involved people either reporting child abuse cases or seeking help from the hotline, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Around 23 percent of the calls involved child abuse. And one in three of the abused children were aged between 6 and 8, while those aged 2 or under accounted for 12 percent.
Ho said elementary school pupils as a whole is a high-risk group when it comes to abuse as the children face more pressure in relation to homework. Some parents are unable to deal with the issue properly, leading to frictions that could end up in parental violence.
The activist said her group received 762 calls last year seeking help on matters related to child discipline, up 306 from a year earlier. The surge in calls to the helpline suggests that more parents were willing to take the initiative to look for assistance, she said.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, announced earlier this month that a “white bill” on child care will be launched at the end of the month to gather public opinions.
The document will propose to introduce joint parental responsibility model as replacement for the existing one, which involves rearranging parental rights through custody orders.
Supporting the proposal, Ho suggested that the government should also provide such parents with guidance on how to take care of children and also help the parents get counseling.
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