The official number of deaths caused by child abuse in the past decade is estimated at about 100, but the South Korean government said Friday the actual count might be much higher than the reported figure.
A total of 97 children died from child abuse from 2001-2012, according to the National Child Protection Agency, affiliated with the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
“The actual number of children who died from abuse is likely to be much higher than the data (compiled) on child abuse deaths by year, because the official data only accounts for cases received by child protection agencies,” the agency said.
The Welfare Ministry does not have the full statistical figures as the country’s authorities, such as police and the prosecution, do not share detailed information on deaths resulting from child abuse, generating a gap between the official figures and estimates.
Local hospitals also do not send data on deaths linked to child abuse to the government and child protection agencies.
As many as 16 children died from abuse in 2005, according to official data, and the lowest yearly death toll was two cases, in 2003 and 2010.
The parents of the victims were the suspects in over 80 percent of cases, with almost 80 percent of the deaths involving the victim’s biological parents.
By family type, single-parent families were at higher risk of child abuse deaths, and accounted for the majority of cases.
The biggest cause of child abuse deaths was negligence during the 2009-2011 period. In 2012, however, more than half of the deaths occurred from a combination of two or more types of abuse. Child abuse has a range of forms from negligence, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse, to abandonment.
By Suh Ye-seul (firstname.lastname@example.org)