By Kim Bo-eun
The government will provide lifelong parenting education to prevent child abuse.
The ministries of gender equality and family, health and welfare, and education unveiled a comprehensive plan Tuesday placing greater emphasis on teaching parental roles starting in grade school and continuing through university, military service, marriage, pregnancy and through childrearing years.
"We have concluded that a one-time parenting course taken upon marriage or pregnancy would not be effective in instilling proper values in parents, and therefore have drawn up a plan to teach parenting throughout a person's life," an official of the gender equality and family ministry said.
According to a 2015 report from the welfare ministry, the largest ratio of child abuse perpetrators — 33.5 percent — had problems in childrearing attitudes and methods.
"In the past, information and experiences on rearing children were passed down from generation to generation. But today's families lack that knowledge," the official said.
According to a 2015 report from the National Research Council for Economics, Humanities and Social Sciences, only 19.9 percent of men and 39.3 percent of women said they had taken part in a parental education course, due to lack of time and awareness of such courses.
Accordingly, the government plans to include parenting courses in the high school senior curriculum, and advise universities to include such content in liberal arts courses. It is also considering providing parenting courses for men serving their military duty and encouraging couples registering for marriage to take parental education courses.
It will also collaborate with ob-gyn hospitals, daycare centers, kindergartens and schools to provide programs and information on parenting according to the stages of birth, childcare and schooling.
Besides parental education, the government will collect data from related ministries and organizations to prevent and locate abuse cases at an earlier stage, including data on children without medical checkup or vaccination records, and that of children absent from kindergarten or school without a proper excuse.
Child experts have given a positive evaluation to the plan but stressed that it is more important to carry it out.
"Lifelong parental education is desirable, but if it is not compulsory, not many will participate," said Jang Hwa-jeong, director of the National Child Protection Agency.
Social Welfare Professor Lee Bong at Seoul National University said, "We had numerous plans in the past as well, but they have not been carried out. Suitable budget and related infrastructure are priorities, and a well-performing control tower is needed."