First Japan govt. survey on child abuse linked to guardians' religious beliefs

The Japanese government has conducted its first survey on child abuse linked to the religious beliefs of the child's guardians. It found that there were 47 cases of such abuse in the country during an 18-month period through last September.

The Children and Families Agency conducted the survey at child consultation centers, schools and others places. It released the results on Friday.

The survey showed that 37 child consultation centers, or about 16 percent of the total, handled child abuse cases linked to the guardians' religious beliefs during the survey period. The total number of cases was 47.

The centers said in 19 of those cases they temporarily placed the victims in protective care.

In most of the cases, the victims were threatened verbally and prevented from making decisions on their own. Video clips and other materials were also used to intimidate the victims in some cases.

Another common form of abuse was to force the victims to publicly declare that they believe in a certain religion. In many cases, victims were forced to participate in religious activities. In some cases, a guardian's participation in religious activities led to the serious neglect of a child.

Twenty-eight individuals who were abused by guardians with religious beliefs were interviewed by the examiners or sent a questionnaire. About half of them said they were unable to consult with others about being abused.

The agency says it plans to work with the education ministry to create an environment in which such children can seek help.