Protect minors and senior citizens

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Protect minors and senior citizens

The country’s population of seniors and minors are the weak and vulnerable that all of society has a duty to protect. The public and media are enraged whenever stories of child abuse surface. We discuss stronger punitive actions but they are not followed up on. In the meantime, abuses against minors and seniors are rising.

According to the Health and Welfare Ministry, child abuse cases have sharply increased in recent years, totaling 4,202 as of July - compared with 6,796 at the end of last year and 5,657 in 2010. Children who have been abused are often hurt again. Repeat abuse cases surged by 45.8 percent from 1,262 in 2010 to 1,840 last year. Lee Mok-hee, a representative of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy who released the findings, said child abusers are punished too lightly and are insufficiently treated or educated. Children are put back into danger when they are returned to these offenders.

Senior citizens have been equally neglected. Cases of abuse against the elderly surged 72.7 percent to 3,520 last year from 2005. Abuses at nursing homes and hospitals rose by as much as 445 percent from 2005 to total 251 last year. More nursing homes for seniors were built using public subsidies on long-term medical and nursing care. Caregivers are blamed for 80 percent of incidents of maltreatment toward seniors that occur at the facilities.

Abused children should not return to the people who hurt them - even if the assailants are their parents - unless their safety is 100 percent guaranteed. The children would be safer in other homes until their parents or guardians change their behavior. But there are just 50 children’s shelters across the country, with only 12 having been added over the past decade. Victims of domestic abuse sometimes do not wish to go home, but there is often no other choice due to the shortage of facilities. Some children run away from home due to continued violence. The community must be aware of these children and help increase the number of facilities to protect them from violent homes. Reports on abuse must be more commonplace. Of all abuse reports regarding children and seniors, 30 percent were made by teachers or medical facility workers, and 18 percent were made by public servants. We must establish a system that will enable people to report cases of abuse more easily.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 26, Page 34

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