Child abuse claims prompt call for better neighborhoods

09:33, May 30, 2011      

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The Guangdong provincial women's federation is encouraging communities to become more child-friendly and better protect children's welfare after a survey it conducted found most children had suffered abuse.

The women's federation, in cooperation with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, released a report last week that noted more than 90 percent of children in Foshan city, Guangdong province, encountered violence at least once a year.

Some 74 percent of the responding children said they experienced abuse at home, a percentage that was higher than the level experienced at school, among peers or in the community.

Among those who claimed to have suffered from domestic mistreatment, 72 percent said they were subjected to psychological abuse, 20 percent said their parents ignored their wishes, 10 percent suffered physical violence and 6 percent suffered sexual harassment and violence.

Almost all of the 407 parents surveyed admitted they had heavily scolded their children and spanked them.

To create a better environment for children's growth, communities should set up telephone hotlines so children can report violence, said Yang Jianzhen, vice-chairwoman of the women's federation.

Meanwhile, communities should provide playgrounds and other facilities for children and organize seminars to teach parents proper parenting skills, as well as organize activities in which children and parents can bond, the federation said.

The organization plans to pick 10 communities from a pool of 47 candidates for pilot projects to showcase how neighborhoods can be child-friendly.

Some residential areas have already made a start.

Zhu Xingxing, a social worker and program assistant at a community center in Huangbei New Village in the Luogang district of Guangzhou, said the community often organizes seminars for young mothers to teach them how to raise their children.

"It is especially helpful to mothers born in 1980s," she said.

Social workers from the center also visit families in the surrounding area to look for families in need of help, said Zhang Liangguang, chief of the program.

In one case, a baby with inherited heart disease had been abandoned by his parents. His father eventually started to care for the baby but refused to pay his son's medical bills. After the media reported the case, the family received donations and the baby got the heart surgery he needed.

The community center has since tried to help the father find work and is monitoring his mental health.

Liu Cheng, an associate professor of law at the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said communities in Guangdong are generally not adequately child-friendly and investment should be boosted to help rectify the situation.

Zheng Erqi contributed to this story.

Source: China Daily
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