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South Korean child abuse, extreme school competition draw U.N. scrutiny

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korean child abuse, extreme school competition draw U.N. scrutiny
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said in a report this week South Korea needs to better address the needs of marginalized children and high levels of competition in schools. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- South Korea is under criticism from a United Nations committee for not doing enough to curb domestic child abuse and encouraging cutthroat competition among students that affects their mental health.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child submitted its concluding observations this week after evaluating national reports from Seoul's health and welfare ministry, Newsis reported Friday.

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The U.N. group gave high marks for South Korea's legislation affecting refugees, child abuse, and the state budget allocated toward victimized children. The committee also endorsed South Korea's strengthening of penalties for child-related sex offenses and expanding parental leave for fathers and single parents, according to the report.

But the U.N. committee also said South Korea's budget to address the needs of economically marginalized, disabled or migrant children is relatively low compared to its GDP. Korea is a member of the OECD group of developed countries.

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The international agency said high rates of domestic child abuse, relatively high child suicide rates and "excessive competition" at school are sources of concern.

South Korea is required to submit a national report to the U.N. by December 2024 on child welfare, and is expected to take measures that reflect U.N. recommendations. Seoul is planning to hold discussions on Nov. 20 ahead of drafting a Second Basic Plan for Child Policy for the years 2020-24, according to Newsis.

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Domestic child abuse in South Korea has become a source of increasing concern in the country.

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Last week, a man was charged with murdering his 5-year-old stepson using cruel means, including tying the child with a rope in their home, local television network KBS reported Friday.

The father was believed to have acted alone, but the boy's biological mother is also being charged with neglect. She had previously denied any wrongdoing, according to the report.

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