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Ministry to use sensors to track children

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it plans to make day care centers use sensors and implement IT systems to check on children’s whereabouts, amid recent child abuse cases.

The Health Ministry will report new measures in the Cabinet meeting Tuesday in response to President Moon Jae-in’s request Friday to find a solution to prevent future child abuse cases.

A 4-year-old girl was found dead in a minibus on July 17 after being left inside for around seven hours in the sweltering heat in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province, and an 11-month-old boy was found dead after being allegedly suffocated by a day care teacher in Hwagok-dong, Seoul on Thursday.

Despite a policy that requires day care centers to install surveillance cameras in 2015, Moon emphasized the recurring child abuse cases show how more measures are needed.

The government discussed Sunday the use of radio-frequency identification at the entrance of day care centers so that every child who enters and leaves the facility would be tracked through a device inside the child’s bag.

Parents would receive texts about the child’s whereabouts, which could prevent a future case similar to that in Dongducheon in which the girl was located too late. RFID sensors have already been used for caretakers of the elderly.

Sleeping Child Check devices are also being talked about. The monitor activates warning lights when children enter the bus and is turned on when the bus ignition turns off. The driver must go to the back of the bus and press a button on the monitor, if not, a horn will sound in order to remind the driver to check for any sleeping children left on the bus. The technology is already in use in the US, Canada and United Arab Emirates.

There have been six cases nationwide where children were left in buses in the recent two years, according to a report by Rep. Jung Choun-sook of the Democratic Party of Korea.

By Chyung Eun-ju (