Who will protect Them?1)
On October 13, 2020, a 16-month-old girl living in Seoul died of maltreatment as a result of horrible treatment from her adoptive parents. The case was reported three times to authorities, but no other action was taken in those three reports. Even in the third report, the child's nursery teacher took her to a pediatrician. The pediatrician was convinced the signs of child abuse, so the nursery teacher reported the parents to the police. But the polices took it lightly, and the adoptive parents were acquitted. Eventually, she was died. The doctor in the emergency room who found signs of child abuse on Jeongin requested an autopsy from the National Forensic Service. According to the autopsy report, her death was from the 'abdominal injuries caused by an external force.' She suffered serious injuries such as mesenteric bleeding and ruptured small and large intestines, as well as pancreas amputation, all of which were the direct result of sudden and powerful external shocks similar to those of victims of traffic accidents. After this piece of news was revealed to the public, many people became angry at the parents, the police, and the adoption agency. The Holt Children's Services INC, the adoption agency responsible for placing the child in the home, and the Yangcheon Police Station in Seoul, in charge of the incident, has been criticized for its irresponsible conduct to the situation.
There are legal and structural problems at the root of the incident. While the police may act in cases of child abuse, the police can also be punished for abuse of authority. In fact, as a result of the police investigation into the allegations of child abuse, the parents filed a complaint against the police department, accusing them of neglect of duty and abuse of authority. The result was that the police were held accountable. So, President Moon JaeIn made the police quickly separate parents from the child now if more than one report of abuse is received through official channels. And the new law came into effect from March 2021 under the name 'immediate separation system.' Moon said, "The highest priority will be given to the interest of the child. The government is considering increasing the number of follow-up visits to adopted families. Also, when investigating adoption families, we will make investigating surrounding people mandatory." After the Jeongin case on 13 October, the average monthly reported by Statistics Korea, child abuse statistic rose to 267 in January 2021. This is a 47% increase from the total 180 cases reported before the incident, which can be attributed to the growing social interest in child abuse after the Jeongin case. In addition, the government's stronger measures are expected to reduce child abuse crimes in Korea.
1) Son Dukho, "'Jeongin Incident,' President Moon, "What Can't Happen… Full Follow-up Management of Adopted Children"", January 4, 2021