Welfare officials in Japan have responded to the record-high number of suspected child abuse cases during the year ending in March.
The welfare ministry said on Thursday that child consultation centers across the country handled more than 122,000 such cases in fiscal 2016. The cases involved children aged under 18, who were suspected of being subjected to abuse by their parents or other guardians. The number was up nearly 20,000 from the figure for the previous fiscal year.
More than half, or over 63,000, of the cases were related to psychological abuse, such as verbal abuse and the sighting of domestic violence.
Almost 32,000 cases were about physical abuse. Some 26,000 cases were associated with neglect. More than 1,600 cases involved sexual abuse.
The largest number of cases was reported in Osaka Prefecture at upward of 17,000, followed by Tokyo at more than 12,000.
The number of reported child abuse cases has been rising since comparable data became available in fiscal 1990. It has increased roughly 3 times over the past decade.
The ministry says neighbors are more actively reporting abuse to child consultation centers.
It also attributes the increase in the last fiscal year to a growing number of reports from police. In April of last year, the National Police Agency instructed local police to report any suspected cases to the centers.
But observers say the surging number could make welfare officials too busy and lead to overlooking of serious cases.
Source: NHK Image: Bank Image