The number of suspected child abuse cases, involving children under 18 years old, reported by police to child consultation centers, hit a record high of 37,113 in the first half of this year, according to data released Thursday by the National Police Agency.
It was the seventh consecutive year of increase since the agency began keeping half-year-term records in 2011. The latest figure grew by 6,851, or 22.6 percent, from the first half of 2017, when the total number for the whole year was the highest ever.
Upon receiving reports of suspected child abuse, police officers quickly go to the scene to check on the safety of the child.
The number of children protected due to life-threatening or other serious situations increased by 340 to 2,127 from a year earlier, exceeding 2,000 for the first time and more than tripling the corresponding figure in the first half of 2012.
As for the content of the reports to the centers, psychological abuse, including cases of tormenting children psychologically with abusive words, ranked top at 26,415, or 71.2 percent of the total.
Within the category of psychological abuse, domestic violence cases in which the child witnesses his or her parent, or other people, being physically or verbally abused exceeded 60 percent at 16,869.
The number of children in physical abuse cases, such as assault, was 6,792, up 1,069 from a year earlier. The number of childcare negligence or refusal cases was 3,795, up 759 on a year-on-year basis. Sexual abuse cases increased by 14 to 111.
The number of child abuse cases detected by police grew by 130 to 641 from a year earlier. Among those who abused children, 284 were birth fathers, followed by 169 birth mothers and 128 men in roles such as stepfathers or adoptive farhers.
The total number of serious cases was 645, including 19 deaths of those below 10 years of age. Yua Funato, a 5-year-old girl in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, who died in March this year, was among them.
The number of police reports to the centers has increased as police are strengthening their cooperation with the centers.
In April 2016, the NPA instructed all prefectural police headquarters to report any suspicious cases in which they quickly went to the scene and identified signs of abuse, such as bruises, to the centers. The agency also instructed the headquarters to provide information to the centers or municipal governments, even on cases in which they could not determine whether there was abuse.Speech