Political arena outlines child abuse action plans

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Political arena outlines child abuse action plans

Authorities and lawmakers are working to come up with a myriad of measures that would prevent further child abuse cases at day care centers and schools.

In the 2015 operational plan that was briefed to the President Park Geun-hye on Thursday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it was attempting to enhance regulations related to child care facilities.

The ministry is planning to promote a bill that would allow authorities to shut down day care centers with child abuse records without prior warning; strip teachers who are convicted of child abuse, as well as day care owners, of their licenses; and mandate that day care centers set up security cameras and disclose the footage to parents.

“Child abuse is clearly a crime and should not be allowed under any circumstances,” Minister of Health and Welfare Moon Hyung-pyo said in the briefing. “We will also look for fundamental solutions by uncovering problems in the current child care system as well.”

The ministry added that it would finalize a detailed plan for the eradication of child abuse at day care centers at the end of January at the earliest.

The ministry is also looking to strengthen requirements for day care center teachers by making testing more difficult and increasing required education credits. Additionally, revised regulations will require child care teachers to regularly take personality and aptitude tests.

On Thursday, lawmakers from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), also reached an agreement in its special committee designed exclusively to handle child abuse and announced its plan at the National Assembly.

The party is currently seeking to permanently revoke the licenses of teachers convicted of child abuse. NPAD lawmakers earlier disagreed with an idea proposed by the ruling Saenuri Party that installing CCTV cameras in all schools could be a primary solution for preventing violence toward children.

“We will make sure such measures lead to better surveillance and management in child care centers,” said NPAD lawmaker Nam Yun In-soon. “We are going to review the bill in the provisional session of the National Assembly in February.”

The same day, Saenuri lawmakers visited a day care center in Chanwon, South Gyeongsang, where they held a hearing to collect ideas for its own plan to root out child abuse. The party’s task force for child abuse prevention is currently on a nationwide tour visiting regional day care centers. The trip is scheduled until this weekend.

On the local level, the Seoul Metropolitan Government held its own briefing Thursday to announce that it would hand out 1.2 million won ($1,100) to 2.4 million won each to day care centers if their owners, teachers and parents agreed to install CCTV cameras.

According to the local government, only 37.6 percent of the 6,787 day care centers in Seoul currently have security cameras. It also plans to draw up guidelines to make clear the distinction between physical abuse and discipline and distribute a manual to day care centers.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]


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