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Child abuse within U.S. military families studied by Prefecture

Date Posted: 2009-07-02

Okinawa Prefecture, still frustrated by a 2007 child abuse death involving a U.S. military dependent, is studying statistics about abuse in off-base communities, looking for ways to prevent future incidents.

The Okinawa Prefecture Child Care Center has been coordinating with officials at all municipalities on the island, and discovered there’ve been 25 cases of suspected child abuse involving American military families over the past ten years. The surveyors talked with civil offices and town offices looking for information about cases known to the local community.

The Prefecture says there’s no service cooperation between the U.S. military and Okinawa Prefecture on child abuse issues, and says “we need to have a discussion about this matter, and make adjustments as necessary.” The Prefecture referred back to a November 2007 case in Uruma City where a small boy was discovered wandering the streets crying and with no clothes on. Covered with blue bruise marks, he was taken to a police station by a passer-by.

The boy told police his father had beaten him, but when police asked the father, he denied having hit the boy, so police released the child to his custody. Only a few days later, the same little boy was found dead, beaten. “We have to do something to go over again what we can do for the children,” a Prefecture official says, “and we have to confirm children’s safety, with workers educating and teaching, and having cooperation with on-base related officials and facilities.”

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