Crackdown on day care center abuse
The government is cracking down on child abuse at day care centers, passing laws to prohibit physical and emotional abuse and tougher penalties for centers caught brutalizing their charges.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare will draft laws banning all forms of abuse including physical punishment; emotional abuse arising from yelling, swearing and intimidation; and cost-cutting practices like providing poor meals for the kids.
Irregular feeding of infants and young children, especially under 36 months, will also be considered physical abuse, according to the ministry.
“The definition of child abuse at day care centers will be interpreted from a comprehensive viewpoint,” a ministry official said. “All the conceivable administrative punishment, as well as financial penalties, will be imposed [on day care centers mistreating children].”
The reputation of day care centers has been damaged after several cases of child abuse were recently disclosed.
On Dec. 7, police launched an investigation of a director of a day care center in Seongdong District, Seoul, who allegedly slapped children in the face and verbally abused them.
The number of day care workers receiving criminal penalties for child abuse totaled 5,433 last year and eight children died of abuse.
Existing laws subject abusive day care center workers to criminal penalties, suspension of qualification to work and complete disqualification. The new laws will prohibit anyone convicted of child abuse from ever stepping into a day care center again.
On top of that, day care centers will be held responsible for any abuse and will have to suspend operations or shut down their facilities in the case of convictions, not just pay a penalty.
The current law only applies to directors and teachers, but in the future it will also apply to abusive center representatives, cooks and drivers.
By Yoo Sun-young [firstname.lastname@example.org]