Taipei, The incidence of child abuse in Taiwan is closely linked to parents’ unemployment, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou said Tuesday, citing one of its studies, and it urged the government and private sector to pay heed to the issue at this time when people are out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a news conference, Hsin Yi-chen (辛宜臻), an attending physician in the hospital’s Department of Pediatric General Medicine, said the correlation between unemployment and child abuse became evident in the United States during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when the number of children hospitalized with brain damage nearly doubled from previous years.
It was later discovered that the spike in child abuse during that period was closely related to a high unemployment rate at the time, Hsin said.
She said that in 2018, a team at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou conducted a similar study, using unemployment data from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics for the period 2004 to 2015, and a correlation between the two factors was also found.
Over the 12-year period, the number of abused or maltreated children in Taiwan was recorded at 161,183, which was an average of 36 victims per day, Hsin said, citing the hospital study.
The study also showed an increase in the average daily incidence of child abuse in Taiwan over the years, from 14 per 10,000 children in 2004 to 23.4 per 10,000 in 2015, peaking at 43 per 10,000 children in 2012, she said.
In areas of the country where the jobless rate was higher, the incidence of child abuse was also higher, according to the study.
There was also a delayed effect in the correlation between parental employment and child abuse, which meant that the latter could rise a year after an increase in the former, according to the study.
It estimated that for every 1 percentage point rise in the unemployment rate, the incidence of child abuse increased by seven per 10,000 children in the following year.
According to Hsin, the delay could be related to the fact that people in Taiwan usually receive government unemployment benefits for six to nine months after they lose their jobs.
The stress of unemployment, therefore, might not hit until months later, she said.
Citing statistics from the Ministry of Labor, Hsin said some 30,000 people were on unpaid leave as of the end of June due to the COVID-19 crisis.
As a result, the incidence of child abuse may increase in the coming months, she said, urging the government and private sector to allocate more resources to preventing such a problem among high-risk families.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel