Time to address child abuse in China
By Zheng Qi
People's Daily

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People's Daily - Shanghai authorities closed a daycare facility at the headquarters for Ctrip, a leading travel agency, for child abuse violations. Two videos depicting the daycare employees abusing small children, some as young as eighteen months, went viral on Chinese social media, triggering the national debate on child abuse prevention. 

Child abuse prevention has always been a top priority in the US. And yet the country has one of the worst child abuse records among industrialized nations. 

In January, the US Children’s Bureau released its Child Maltreatment report for 2015. According to the report, 7.2 million children suffered from abuse, a jump from 6.6 million the previous year. And child fatalities stemming from abuse and neglect reached 1,670, increase of almost 100 from 2014. 

The study also revealed that the majority of reported child abuse incidents are carried out by family members, while less than one percent were reported to have occurred at child care facilities.

It is widely believed in the US that daycare and early after-school learning facilities play a preventative role against child abuse. 

However, this does not mean all daycare facilities provide a safe and nurturing environment for kids. Neglect and abuse still happens. 

When abuse claims emerge, parents have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the facility in question. An attorney is made available to inform the parents of their rights and advise them on which authorities they should contact so further abuse can be prevented.  

By the late 19th century, US states began implementing child protection laws. In 1912, US President William Taft signed a bill that created the Children's Bureau, a federal organization designed to support child welfare programs and provide aid to families in need.  

Since then, a variety of legislation has been passed granting states the power to act on behalf of abused children. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was signed into law in 1974.  It has been reauthorized and amended multiple times, with each action increasing its legal and protective reach. 

There are no federal laws that regulate licensing for workers in child care programs. However, before a state can become eligible to receive financial support from the Department of Health and Human Services, it must certify that it has established safety and health requirements, as well as procedures to ensure that providers comply with the requirements. 

Federally funded programs like Head Start must adhere to performance standards. Each state is responsible for implementing licensing standards for childhood facilities. The states also have the right to conduct criminal background checks and require all potential daycare employees to submit fingerprint records and receive proper clearance. 

In the US, employees must undergo training before they can work at a licensed daycare facility. The National Health and Safety Performance Standards offer guidelines on the amount of training that is needed. Directors and caregivers should undergo a minimum of 30 hours of continued education during the first year of employment. After that, directors and employees need 24 hours of continued education every year. 

The Child Development Association (CDA) is a nationally recognized, competency-based training and credential program. To be eligible for CDA accreditation, an applicant must have 480 hours of experience working with children within the past 5 years and have completed 120 hours of training, with at least 10 hours in each of the eight CDA training areas. 

Effective staff supervision is crucial for preventing abuse and neglect in child care settings. Caring for children can be a stressful job, and child care providers who are overwhelmed can lose control and lash out at children. As a result, the role of the child care providers’ supervisor in preventing abuse includes identifying and alleviating some of the things that cause workplace stress.

Most early childhood education programs in the US encourage parents to make unannounced visits during daily operations. Most facilities implement written policies on disciplining children, as well as policies about the appropriate and inappropriate touching of children. 

To encourage society’s participation in child abuse prevention, many states have a toll-free hotline where one can report suspected child abuse. The National Child Abuse Hotline is active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors.

Almost all states designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child abuse and neglect. Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children, such as social workers, teachers, physicians, medical examiners or law enforcement officers.