The sudden increase in child abuse is recognized as a really serious problem. It briefly covered the ‘Jung-in Incident’, in which child abuse became a controversial issue. A survey was conducted on the subject of child abuse to Soongsilians in order to find out about child abuse awareness based on the results. Let’s look back on the severity of child abuse. ...............................................................Ed
‘Jung-in Incident’ [How Child Abuse Is a Big Issue]
#1 Incident Cleanup
Currently, the worst case of child abuse has occurred. Jung-in, who was 16 months old, died at the hospital in October 2020 due to horrible child abuse. This case has become more publicized and known to many people by appearing in Investigative reporting program Unanswered Questions.
Jung-in was born healthy on June 10, 2019 at 3.6 kg after 39 weeks of pregnancy. However, the child grew up being cared for by a foster agency designated by an adoption agency from the 8th day of her life because the situation was not favorable for her mother to raise her. In July 2019, at the age of two months, the foster parents of the child were decided, and the guardian of the foster family said he was relieved that the foster parents were already raising a daughter. In February last year, they became a family after passing examination of court, which is the final gateway for adoption.
Nine months later, on the 271st day in the arms of her foster parents, Jung-in passed away. Investigators questioned the adoptive parents regarding the untimely death of the child. However, the parents insisted that the child’s death was an accident. The child was taken to the hospital and was already in cardiac arrest, but stabilized for a while due to the emergency measures taken by the medical staff. The CT(Computed Tomography) scan, which was performed after the child was stabilized, revealed that her abdomen was filled with blood. The decisive cause of Jung-in’s death was ruptured pancreas, which is located in the deepest part of the abdomen, and abdominal damage caused by external forces. Jung-in had the worst physical condition at the time, but she could have lived if she was taken to the hospital right away. There were cuts or bruises in so many parts of her body that were not listed. In addition, the CT image showed the worst case of child abuse that could be published in textbooks.
#2 The Truth Behind Three Chances
The teachers at the daycare center where Jung-in attended said they had already reported three reports of child abuse before Jung-in died. However, they said they could not take action due to the sensitive reaction of foster mother after the first report. When the daycare center teacher, who saw the child with a bruise or wound mainly on the upper body, asked mother, how the bruise came about this time, and she said, “I think it happened while the child was washed and massaged.” Is it normal to massage a child who hasn’t even passed the first birthday with enough pressure to cause a bruise? Child protection agencies and police, who found out about this, launched an investigation. However, the police said, “It is hard to see it as child abuse unless the bones are broken or torn somewhere.” As a result, both parents were cleared of charges, and the complacency of the police, who did not conduct the investigation properly, are also receiving a lot of criticism. There have already been three reports of such child abuse, but all three times, Jung-in was sent back to her adoptive parents’ side because of the lack of so-called clear and definite evidence.
On the day of Jung-in’s death, the adoptive mother is believed to have exerted strong physical force on the child. In response, the adoptive mother blamed the child for the wounds and death, saying that Jung-in complained about food and fell on the stairs. The third round of suspected abuse was reported on September 23 last year by a doctor who had examined Jungin since the first round of abuse was reported. The doctor said that the suspected abuse was strongly reported to the police, who came after receiving a report of child abuse, and thought the child would have been separated from her adoptive parents. However, the police repeatedly continued to change the person in charge and there were no previous charges. The child protection agency said that during the 80 inspections after the first report of suspected child abuse, it was recorded that he did not answer the phone when he did not directly see Jung-in and did not consult her adoptive parents. If he had taken any more active measures, Jung-in’s pain would have stopped in the first report of child abuse.
All About Child Abuse
#1 Child Abuse in Detail
A survey on 50 Soongsilians was conducted on child abuse. Starting with their interest in child abuse, we wondered what they thought about various topics related to this. It was intended to inform as many people as possible about child abuse in more detail, increase awareness, and provide areas to help us stop child abuse. From now on, we will continue to provide detailed information along with questions and answers from surveys.
First, the first question was, “Are you interested in child abuse cases in the society?” About 67% of the respondents said they were “interested” and one-third said they were “very interested.” Secondly, when asked what they knew about the signs of child abuse, as much as 83.3% of the respondents said they did not know well. Although they are still interested in the topic of child abuse itself, they do not know the details. The next question was, “If you know any signs of child abuse, please feel free to write them down.” The answers to this were; “There are many bruises on child’s body; the child looks unwell; the child is sensitive to loud sounds; the child shows a different behavior than usual; the child talks less at home, etc.” Most of them only knew about the physical signs. So I’d like to elaborate on child abuse for all of us.
First of all, the definition of child abuse clearly includes not only active acts of abuse, but also simple corporal punishment and discipline in a passive sense. There are four types of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.
The term ‘physical abuse’ refers to any act of allowing an adult, including a guardian, to cause physical or bodily damage to a child in a situation other than an accident. Physical signs include external signs of injury and damage, such as unexplained physical scars, puncture wounds with time differences in incidence and recovery, repetitive scratches of similar size, and wounds in the shape of the tool used. Behavioral signs include avoidance of contact with adults, fear when other children cry, aggressive or intimidated extreme behavior, and fear of parents.
Next, ‘emotional abuse’ refers to verbal insults, emotional threats, imprisonment or inhibition, and other sadistic acts committed by adults to children. Unsleeping, nakedness, discrimination, favoritism, and bullying in the family are all included in emotional abuse. Specific signs of emotional abuse include developmental delays and growth disorders, continued washing or biting of certain objects, anti-social and destructive behavioral disorders, and overreaction to neurological substrate disorder mistakes.
‘Sexual abuse’ refers to all sexual activities performed by adults, including guardians, to children under the age of 18 for the purpose of satisfying themselves. Physical signs of sexual abuse include STD(Sexually Transmitted Disease) infections in pre-school children, pregnancy, semen found in children, cuts or scratches on the vagina, bruises or abrasions around the anus, blood on the feces, etc. Behavioral signs also include inappropriate sexual behavior or sexual knowledge, sexual interaction with others, atrophy, fantasy, infant behavior (retreat behavior), and arson/animal cruelty (mainly characteristic of the male)
Finally, ‘neglect’ refers to an act in which a guardian puts a child in a dangerous environment or does not provide children
with the necessary care, compulsory education, medical measures, etc. Abandonment refers to an act in which a guardian leaves a child unprotected. Signs of neglect include developmental delays and growth disorders, unsanitary physical conditions, inappropriate clothes for the season, begging or stealing food, early school arrival, and late return home. First of all, I think we should know clearly about the types of child abuse and their signs.
#2 Boundary Between ‘Discipline’ and ‘Abuse’
Many perpetrators of child abuse often make excuses for child discipline. Discipline refers to training people to act according to the rules. It is necessary because it helps young children control their own behavior. However, such discipline can lead to physical and mental abuse. In a survey conducted by ST, we asked, “What level do you think parents’ discipline and corporal punishment are bordering abuse?” The answers to this question were various. From this point of view, the line between discipline and abuse is very vague. There is an old saying, “Give a rice cake to an ugly child and hit a precious child with the rod of love.” As you can see from the phrase ‘the rod of love’, we have used violence as a way of discipline from long ago. The distinction between discipline and abuse is determined from the perspective of children, not parents. In order to eradicate child abuse, it is necessary to establish values that cannot be abused by physical punishment. They should also be able to clearly distinguish whether their actions are abuse or discipline. Child abuse will be constantly repeated as long as there is a culture that approves and allows discipline through physical punishment in the parenting process.
#3 Neglect = Abuse
Neglect is easy to miss at first glance. However, according to the 2019 Annual Report on Child Abuse released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, neglect accounts for 9.6% of the total cases of child abuse. Neglect refers to a condition in which a child is left unattended because the guardian does not provide anything, even basic needs, to the child. This includes the act of a guardian putting a child in a dangerous environment or not providing children with the necessary shelter, compulsory education, medical measures, etc. Leaving children alone in class is also an act of neglect. In addition, what the teacher in charge did not find in the event of a dispute between students is neglect itself.
Problems After Child Abuse
#1 Sub-Professional Civil Servants and Police
In order to prevent continuous child abuse cases and protect the children, public officials have been in charge of child abuse cases since October last year. Dedicated public officials are mainly responsible for field investigations of child abuse. Private institutions are often denied or threatened to visit abused children’s households, so the government introduced dedicated public officials who can utilize public power. However, due to the lack of manpower, it is difficult to properly respond to numerous reports of child abuse. It is also not easy for the dedicated public officials to develop their expertise. There is also a widespread atmosphere within the police that they do not want to be in charge of the APO(Abuse Prevention Police Officer). Therefore, the lower-ranking police officer is in charge of the APO. It is also highly likely that the roles of the police and dedicated public officials overlap and shift responsibilities or tasks with each other. A system should be established in which the dedicated public officials, police officers, field experts, etc., collaborate on child abuse tasks. Child abuse resolution is not a fragmentary effort. Comprehensive responses from protection agencies, counseling centers, and local governments are essential.
#2 Light Punishment in Law
If a child dies due to abuse, child abuse fatality crime is generally applied, not murder. The crime of murder should be strictly proven to have an intention to kill a person. However, cases of child abuse and death often occur in secret for a long time without using a weapon. As a result, it is difficult to prove the intention. There are 15 cases of child abuse fatality crimes that have been confirmed in 2020. The maximum sentence was only 15 years in prison. There is even a verdict of not guilty. Since it is not murder, a relatively light punishment is possible during the sentencing process. Legally, child abuse is sentenced to more than 5 years in prison and up to life imprisonment. However, the standard of punishment for child abuse and death is 4 to 7 years, and the standard for murder is 10 to 16 years. If reasons, such as a request for leniency, are added to this, the sentence will be further lowered.
#1 The Efforts We Can Make
When Jung-in’s case was re-examined through the Unanswered Questions, greatly agonized responses broke out from the public. Many people were angry and sad, and they even questioned themselves over Jung-in’s death. More than 100 thousand people, including ordinary citizens, celebrities, athletes, and politicians, participated in the ‘Sorry, Jung-in’ challenge, which spread to SNS, thereby helping in publicizing the case. The interest of the citizens has led to many changes. The court was flooded with petitions from the citizens, calling for severe punishment of the adoptive parents. The prosecution also listened to the public’s opinions.
We should try to make sure that the ‘Sorry, Jung-in’ challenge does not stop just with the slogans. Of course, it is also important to speak out socially and punish the perpetrators. However, we should focus more on creating an environment where children like Jung-in can be protected in the future. Our constant interest is the only way to protect abused children. Jung-in existed in the past. However, it was always temporary. Attention was only focused on the brutal methods of abuse, but these were often forgotten quickly.
We asked what you think is necessary for the children affected by child abuse. Participants in the survey answered that they thought it was treatment, psychological counseling, comfortable nesting, and steady interest. Children who have been abused may have aftereffects for life. Therefore, followup care and continuous treatment are very important. What are some of the efforts that we, as college students, can make for a wounded child? In fact, various social organizations for college students are hosting related external activities and services to support children affected by child abuse. Talent donation activities, such as mentoring, psychological counseling, and art therapy, can be of great help to children.
#2 Things That Changed After the Jung-in Incident
In the wake of the Jung-in incident, the government has strengthened its expertise in investigating and responding to early child abuse. It will double the training hours for dedicated public officials and start field experience-type practical education. During the field investigation of child abuse, only the currently reported sites were allowed to enter. However, as the law is revised, the access range will be expanded to the places that are necessary to protect the children. A fine of up to 10 million won will be imposed if the on-site investigation is refused. Work conditions for field workers will also improve. In addition, the government will set up 15 child shelters affected by abuse this year and expand 14 more to reflect additional demands. In order to improve awareness of child abuse prevention, the contents of parent education are created to provide guidance for child care without corporal punishment. It will also launch a campaign to prevent child abuse, such as public service advertisements.
We hope that the interest of Soongsilians in child abuse will not end as a form of compassion toward Jung-in. Let’s make a future together that prevents children from suffering abuse.
“Don’t hit children even with flowersˮ
- Spanish Educator, Francisco Ferrer
Kim Seo-young (Planning Editor)
Oh Joo-eun (Web Editor)