Group blames home pressure for abuse

A child protection group has received 1,136 reports and inquiries about abuse, and most came from family members including 681 mothers and 72 fathers.

There were also five calls from abusers seeking help, said the organization Against Child Abuse.

Nearly 60 percent of the cases involved general physical abuse, 14 psychological abuse and 12 percent sexual abuse.

The ACA said the increase in physical child abuse cases could be due to public awareness about reporting abuse, while many children had injuries spotted at schools by teachers and social workers.

Of the 202 children involved in the 168 cases, 27 percent were six to eight years old, followed by 21 percent aged three to five. Sixty-five percent of the 194 suspected abusers were family members, including 55 mothers and 28 fathers.

The group's director, Donna Wong Chui-ling, said parents and children are under increased pressure especially during the transition to higher education in the current education system, and parents' expectations can easily lead to parent-child conflicts.

"During the fifth wave of the pandemic, online classes and early summer vacation have led to more time for students to stay at home and increased pressure on parents to take care of them, which has intensified conflicts," she said. Less reported psychological abuse should also not be ignored, she added, as this - as well as its severity - is harder to detect.

But Wong said the number of reports may not reflect the full picture of child abuse as it is believed that many cases are still hidden.

The group suggested the government totally ban corporal punishment, review the maximum penalty for child abuse and complete legislative work on the child abuse mandatory report mechanism as soon as possible.

Group chairman Patrick Cheung Chi-hung said the three-tiered mechanism of dividing child abuse cases proposed by the government is comprehensive.

On the many cases of child abuse in institutions in recent years, Wong believes that if institutions can create a culture of "caring for children," the risk of child abuse can be greatly reduced.