The number of children abandoned due to their parents’ unemployment, abuse and poverty is increasing.
On September 6, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that the number of children protected by the state or social groups, because they could not receive care at home was 4,975 last year. This means that 13.63 children are being abandoned by their parents every day. A closer look according to regions shows that the most number of children were abandoned in Seoul (1,480), followed by Gyeonggi-do (682), Gangwon-do (335), Incheon (280), and Jeollanam-do (268). The biggest reason children were abandoned was because of abuse (1,094 cases). Other reasons included parental divorce (1,070), single mothers (930), and the parents’ poverty and unemployment.
In the case of Gyeonggi-do, the number of abandoned children aged six or younger increased nearly six-fold in the past three years from eleven in 2013 to 37 in 2014, and 64 in 2015. The majority of these children were secretly abandoned by their parents. The number of children secretly abandoned by their parents was ten in 2013, 33 in 2014, and 61 in 2015. The number of children who were lost (lost but never reunited with their parents) was one in 2013, four in 2014 and three in 2015.
The number of children requiring protection from the provincial districts and not the home due to their parents’ abuse, divorce, or because they were born to a single mother increased by 24 during the same period: 658 in 2013, 689 in 2014, and 682 in 2015. The children who were secretly abandoned by their parents accounted for 1.7% of the children requiring care in 2013, but their percentage increased every year to 4.7% in 2014 and 10.4% in 2015. More than half of the children requiring protection go to a childcare and protection facility and the number of children in the care of foster homes is relatively small. Among the 682 children requiring protection last year, 57 returned to their parents, but 390 out of the remaining 625 children went to a facility and 235 were put in the care of foster homes.
Experts point out that this phenomenon is the result of moral corruption and the collapse of social values. One representative of a child protection facility said, “Most of the parents are still alive, and the children are being abandoned because of their divorce. Such behavior is seen because of the moral corruption of the overall society as well as their parents and because of the collapse of social values.” She added, “It is important to prevent children from being abandoned, but we also need drastic measures to protect those that are.”