TOKYO -- The government is examining revising the child abuse prevention law to reinforce measures against spousal and other types of domestic violence.
The move comes amid observations that children tend to suffer abuse from their parents when their mother is subjected to physical or psychological abuse from her husband.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will include the explicit need for collaboration between child consultation centers and domestic violence counseling organizations, and their concerted responses in its draft revision to the Act on the Prevention, etc. of Child Abuse. The ministry intends to submit the bill to the ongoing regular session of the Diet.
According to a fiscal 2017 Cabinet Office survey, 21 percent of domestic violence victims with children also saw their children become targets of physical abuse or verbal threats by their spouses.
In the case of Mia Kurihara, a 10-year-old girl who died after suspected abuse from her parents, her mother had consulted with a local government about domestic violence she herself had suffered prior to the girl's death in January at their home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. Mia's parents were arrested on suspicion of inflicting bodily injury on the primary school girl. The case highlighted the difficulty for a parent subjected to domestic violence to protect their child or seek outside help.
Now, women's consultation offices set up at prefectural governments are supposed to serve as counseling and support centers for spousal violence victims. Under the central government's guidelines for domestic violence prevention, those support centers are to share information with child consultation centers when there is a possibility that the child of a domestic violence victim is also being abused. However, the mechanism failed in Mia's case.
The child abuse prevention law does not stipulate collaboration between child guidance centers and domestic violence counseling organizations, even though the law deems spousal violence as psychological abuse of the couple's children.
The health ministry aims to raise social awareness about abuse and domestic violence and ensure thorough collaboration between relevant organizations through the legal revision. The ministry is also looking into adding a provision clearly banning corporal punishment to the draft.
(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Harada, Medical Welfare News Department)