At the end of last year a 11 year old girl was reported to the police by a shop keeper who caught the girl stealing some bread but knew she was not an ordinary elementary school child. She had run away from her home climbing down the gas pipe from her second story apartment. She was abused and tied up and was missing from school for about two years. When the news hit the press the anger of the public could not be ignored.
A teacher in a Women's Research Center writes about the incident in the Peace Weekly and expresses her opinion on our need to prevent incidents of this type. Schools and organizations will be more pro-active and when a child is missing from school for any period of time steps will be taken to find the reasons and work to prevent abuse from happening.
Department of Health and Human Services reports over 80% of abuse is from the parents. In 2015 there were 16.8% more reports of abuse than the preceding year. From 5 years before there has been an increase of over 2 times. Since there is now an obligation to report abuse reporting has increased but those familiar with the situation say the numbers reported are just a small number of the actual cases.
In Korea only 29 % of the abuses are reported while in United States 58.3%, Australia 73.3% Japan 68% are reported. Would strengthening the penalties for abuse result in a drop in the numbers?
She lists some of the reasons for the mistreatment of children that she sees operative in society. Many of the families are poor, we have alcohol and game addiction, disease and handicapped individuals all combining to make the situation complicated. Those who abuse often have been abused as children and have little qualms of conscience for their actions. Pathological behavior is also picked up by children.
Consequently, it is easy for those who are abusers to blame those who raised them for their actions. So better than making the penalties more severe is to show them their actions are not proper and to make them understand in counseling of what their abuse is doing to the children and themselves.
She concludes her article with a need to change the way we are are building our society and the values we emphasize. Pope Francis is speaking strongly about the new liberalism that is spreading throughout the world. Korea is accepting this focus and we have competition without limit, and organizing of society with power. In this kind of environment we have citizens bowing to those with power or determining to have some of this power. With this kind of society those who suffer the most are the weak: children, women and the handicapped. When society forgets the moral values and actions, the weak will suffer and the desire to end abuse and mistreatment of the young will be only a distant dream.