South Korean law enforcement officials tend to have a lower sensitivity to child abuse than the general public, a survey suggested on Thursday.
The survey, the first of its kind here, was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and conducted last year on 190 professionals handling child abuse -- 51 prosecutors, 54 judges, and 85 police officers.
One question on the survey involved a scenario in which a sick child is left unattended. While about 90 percent of the general public viewed the case as child abuse, less than half of the respondents working in law enforcement authorities felt the same.
Among the three groups, police officers showed the lowest sensitivity. All of the prosecutors and judges in the survey classified the beating up or threatening of a child with a knife as child abuse. In contrast, only 70 percent of police officers deemed such acts to be child abuse.
“Police investigate violence and abuse cases in the districts routinely, so they seem to become less sensitive to child abuse or have flexible standards,” said Chung Ick-joong, a professor of social welfare who led the survey.
The Korean authorities received 10,146 initial reports of alleged child abuse in 2011. The number of cases that resulted in legal measures such as indictment stood at 389, or 6.4 percent.
By Sung Jin-woo, Intern reporter