New Law May Protect Children from Abusive Parents
By Suvendrini Kakuchi
TOKYO, Jan 27, 2011 (IPS) - For years, Toshikazu Takahashi, director of the sixty-year-old St. Francis Children’s Home child care facility, has grappled with the difficult of issue of protecting battered children from their abusive parents.
"I was up against a deeply rooted Japanese family tradition - the belief that children belonged to their parents and were not individuals with their own rights that had to be respected. With this notion firmly entrenched in Japanese society, I was fighting a loosing battle," Takahashi explained to IPS.
Takahashi says that the local Child Welfare Law gives parents the sole authority over their children - even in the case of their involvement in abuse.
"The law represents the vulnerable position of children in modern Japanese society," he explained. He echoes common sentiments among social workers who report that they are helpless to protect children who are taken away from child care facilities by their violent parents who use the law to their advantage.
"The kids eyes are terrified when their parents come to take them back. We know they do not want to go back to their violent homes. But what can we do when the parents demand their release," said Takahashi. The Home has fifty children, almost all of them from abused homes.
The situation may soon change. With cases of child abuse now topping more than 35,000 annually and related deaths around 120, the Justice Ministry is now putting the finishing touches on a long-sought revision in the Child Abuse Prevention Law.
The new law, to be passed in April, will finally suspend parental authority for a period of two years in cases of domestic violence - allowing more time for children to be protected, say experts.
"It is true the current law can be ineffective sometimes in protecting children. The revision is now been formulated," said an official from the Justice Ministry who spoke to IPS under condition of anonymity.
JAPAN: New Law May Protect Children from Abusive Parents - IPS ipsnews.net