Of the cases last year, the Social Welfare Department said, 43.4 percent involved physical abuse while 32.8 percent involved sexual abuse. Another 20.1 percent involved child neglect. The remaining cases were either related to psychological abuse or involved more than one type of abuse.

Its annual report noted that many of the cases - or 25.7 percent - involved children aged between 12 and 14. Also, most of the perpetrators - 59.9 percent - were parents, closely followed by friends and peers.

Kwun Tong was the most troubled district, it added, with 13.2 percent of child-abuse cases taking place there. Yuen Long and Tuen Mun trailed close behind, making up, respectively, 12.6 percent and 7.8 percent of the cases.

The department cited inept parenting, emotional instability and marital discord as the main causes in cases where parents are the abusers.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for children to become the targets during spousal conflicts.

A former policeman was yesterday sentenced to a one-year hospital order after looping a belt around his eight-year-old daughter's neck and hanging her up - all in a bid to threaten his estranged wife. The 41-year-old had earlier pleaded guilty to child abuse and criminal damage.

District court judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che said the man had been emotionally devastated by the breakup.

Yiu said the crime, which occurred on June 15, was of a serious nature as the defendant put his own daughter in harm's way.

"Don't do anything to hurt your family and your daughter when you are released," Yiu told the defendant yesterday.

The court earlier heard the man had been separated from his wife since April 2019. Their two daughters lived with their mother and would visit the man in his Fan Ling home during the holidays.

On June 15, the man had called his wife 34 times, demanding a meeting and threatening to kill their daughter.

After his wife reported the case to the police, officers broke into the man's home where they found him prodding his daughter with a knife.

The girl later told officers her father had hung her up with a belt.