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Okinawa is Japan's worst in child abuse per capita

Date Posted: 2003-05-10

Okinawa holds claim it loves children, yet it has the worst child abuse record in Japan. The issue is complicated further by Okinawa having the largest percentage of children in the country.

Government statistics show there were 367 reported cases of child abuse in Okinawa in 2002. Making matters worse, the trend has been up in recent years, last year being 79 cases more than ten years ago.

One of the reasons for the increase, though, is the increased awareness of what is considered abuse of children. "Before, people simply thought that slapping kids around was just strict education, not abuse. They were not aware of the existence of consulting services either," an official at the Prefecture Education Section says. "Never the less, when compared nationally, the number of child abuse cases in Okinawa is about 1.5 times that of the national average," he added.

Officials also say that the availability of counseling services is clearly visible. "The number of child abuse cases is actually decreasing in Naha and Urasoe Cities, both of which have well-established counseling services. Okinawa City has not, and the number of cases brought to officials' attention in Okinawa City was 207 of the prefecture-wide total of 367," the official said. He added that most commonly it concerned neighbors and friends of the family who came to seek advice from officials followed by welfare officials and mothers.

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