Record child abuse cases handled in FY2020

Child consultation centers across Japan handled a record high of more than 200,000 child abuse cases in fiscal 2020 that ended in March.

The welfare ministry said the number of cases was 205,029. That's up by 11,249, or 5.8 percent, from a year ago. The statistics cover children under the age of 18.

Cases of psychological abuse numbered 121,325, accounting for 59.2 percent of the total. The figure grew by 11.2 percent from the previous year. Such abuse includes verbal abuse and violence perpetrated against other family members in front of children.

There were 50,033 cases of physical abuse, such as beatings. That number represents 24.4 percent of the total. There were 31,420 cases of neglect. That number represents 15.3 percent of the total.

In terms of how child consultation centers became aware of the abuse cases, notifications by police and others were made in 103,619 cases, or just more than half of the total. That is an increase from the previous year.

By contrast, notifications from schools and daycare centers fell, as those institutions temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministry officials point out that there is a growing risk that parents who are frustrated with child rearing could become increasingly isolated, because of the pandemic.

They warn that the virus outbreak has also suspended community-wide efforts to protect children from abuse. They say they hope to strengthen networks that watch over children in coordination with private institutions.