What leads parents to kill their kid

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What leads parents to kill their kid


Cases of household abuse that went so far as to lead to the death of a child have shocked Korea.

In Bucheon, Gyoenggi, last week, body parts of a 7-year-old boy were found frozen in a refrigerator three years after he suddenly stopped going to school. The father and mother, both aged 34, claimed he passed out one day after falling. But police suspect abuse and are considering murder charges for the parents.

The JoongAng Ilbo studied 10 cases in which 10 children ended up dying and one was brutally abused but lived between April 2014 and January 2016. It identified 20 factors behind the abuse. The most common one, found in six cases, was that the parents were not prepared to raise children and had inadequate attitudes and methods of dealing with them.

The second most common factor found in five cases was heavy stress from social and financial difficulties.

“A distorted concept of a proper education and the belief that physical punishment is the only way to discipline children, as well as a difficult financial situation were likely the background of the crime,” said a police officer at Bucheon Wonmi Precinct who is investigating the case discovered last week. Both of the parents lived emotionally and socially isolated lives when young with non-caring parents.

There also may have been a history of abuse in the case of the father.

“I was never sent to a hospital when I was abused,” the father, who is surnamed Choi, told the police.

He also told his government-appointed attorney that he “deserves to get the death penalty.”

In a report published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Child Protection Agency that studied 10,027 cases of child abuse in 2014 including some that led to death, 45.2 percent or 4,531 cases were committed by a father, followed by motherly abuse, which accounted for 32 percent, or 3211 cases. The remainder were stepmothers, stepfathers, nannies and relatives.

Home can be the scariest place for some children. The study showed that 80 percent or 8,400 cases of abuse happened at home.

According to the analysis, one-third of the abusers had inadequate attitudes and methods to nurture their children. And 20 percent were suffering stress from social and financial difficulties. Other reasons were depression and marital discord.

An 11-year-old girl who escaped from a house in Incheon in December where she was starved for two years, was in similar situation to the 7-year-old boy in Bucheon.

An Internet-game-addict father and two women living in the house had beaten and starved the young girl.

In June 2015, a 35-year-old woman living in Seoul killed her newborn child. She wrapped the infant in a package and sent it to her mother’s home in Naju, South Jeolla. She said she had no choice due to severe financial difficulties.

In April 2015, a 17-year-old single mother surnamed Song living in a facility for unmarried mothers in Chuncehon, Gangwon, crushed her 16-month-old daughter with her body while the child was sleeping. Song said she wanted a free life like her friends had.

“Parents who don’t know what constitutes negligence or abuse have to be trained in a program that teaches them how to raise their children properly and to build an ideal relationship between parents and children,” said Nho Choong-rai, a social welfare professor at Ewha Women’s University.

There is also the perception in Korea that children are parents’ possessions, Yi Bae-keun, president of the Korea Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

The dead boy in Bucheon was discovered in an ongoing police investigation of 220 children who have been missing from school for unknown reasons. So far, the homes of 112 students have been visited, while the remainder will be checked by Jan. 27.

Thirteen children have been reported to police for further investigation, while eight others whom authorities believe to be suffering from domestic violence were reported to child protection institutes.

Still, there are at least seven students whose whereabouts are unknown.

BY PARK SU-CHEOL, CHOI MO-RAN, KIM YOON-HO [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]
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