Child abuse prevention law amended

The revised law to prevent child abuse came into force on October 1.

The amendment requires anyone who has found a situation in which a child or children may have been abused to report to the administrative bodies concerned, such as child counseling centers. The original law only imposed this duty on those who found a definite case of child abuse.

Stating that child abuse "seriously infringes on children's human rights," the revised law further stresses the responsibility of national and local public bodies for the prevention of child abuse.

A wider range of cases is considered as "child abuse" under the revised law, including a parent who leaves a child being abused by his or her house-sharing partner or domestic violence against one's spouse who has a child.

The Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry says that 26,569 cases of child abuse, the largest number ever, were reported to child counseling centers in the fiscal year 2003. The structure and function of the centers need to be strengthened since the number is expected to increase under the amendment. (end)

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