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Sunday January 23, 2011

Sharp rise in child abuse cases

KOTA KINABALU: A sharp increase in the number of child abuse cases detected by health officials at a hospital here through last year is worrying the authorities.

A total of 142 such cases were detected by the Suspect Child Abuse and Neglect (Scan) team at Sabah Women and Children Hospital last year.

Team chairman Dr Fauziah Zainal Abidin said the figure was almost three times higher than the 58 reported in 2009.

Briefing state Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun who visited the hospital on Friday, she said on average one or two children died due to injuries inflicted by their own parents every year.

“Some children who we felt would not be safe to be left with their parents were sent to welfare centres,” she added.

Azizah said the number of such cases detected in hospitals was of concern as only an estimated 10% of abuse cases were reported.

“There are many reasons why abuse cases are not reported, including society’s lack of awareness of the law, fear of meddling in other people’s private lives and reluctance to get involved with the authorities,” she added.

Azizah said the problem was compounded by the common perception that children had no rights and child abuse was a family matter and not the community’s concern.

“Without early intervention, children who have been abused will grow up to become abusive parents. Society cannot continue to pretend to be ignorant any longer on matters of child abuse and neglect.

“To overcome this problem, we need the involvement of all agencies, organisations and individuals. Society needs to change by taking interest in children’s welfare and wellbeing,” said Azizah.

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