We can't let child abuse go unnoticed

We can't let child abuse go unnoticed

Hong Kong needs a system which forces teachers, social workers and other professionals to report a suspected case

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung told Young Post yesterday that the way we deal with child abuse, or suspected cases of child abuse, in Hong Kong needs to change.

Cheung was talking in light of the shocking case reported last week in which a seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital with injuries on her body and in a near-starving state.

When staff at the girl's kindergarten saw her injuries and questioned her parents about them, she was withdrawn from the school, reports say. But it seems no report was made to the authorities.

"Her kindergarten should have reported this case when she was withdrawn in April," Cheung said. "It took many months for her to reach this state."

Officials from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) had visited the girl's home, but her parents told them that she was with relatives on the mainland. Cheung said that there was not enough communication between different government departments, and that there should be a way for the government, NGOs, and schools to talk to each other when they suspect a child is being abused. "We need to raise public awareness of child protection," he added.

The girl was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung when she lost consciousness in July. She spent some time in intensive care, but is now in the children's ward.

When the case first came to public attention, the girl's elder twin step-sisters and her parents were arrested for questioning but they have since been released. The parents have lost custody of the children, so the twins and their brother are now at a residential home run by the Social Welfare Department.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
We can't let child abuse go unnoticed

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