December 27, 2022 7:00 Japan time
The new Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare guidelines classify acts of threatening or coercing a child’s participation in religious activities by a member of a religious group or hindering a child’s career path based on religious doctrine as abuse.
Sources said the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has released the first draft of guidelines to help local governments address child abuse issues that have arisen in connection with religious groups such as the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation. are preparing. world peace and unity.
Children of religious adherents have in the past criticized the authorities’ response to the problem. I told my kids I couldn’t do it.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last October notified local governments not to take careless actions on the grounds of religious issues. We are also working on a guideline outlining specific points that authorities should be aware of when dealing with such cases.
Officials said the envisioned guidelines would be a question-and-answer format to identify which acts of faith toward children fall under the category of abuse set out in the Child Abuse Prevention Act.
The law defines four types of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse.
Frightening children by telling them that they will go to hell if they do not participate in religious activities, or interfering with their career decisions, is considered psychological abuse and neglect in the guidelines.
Other acts of neglect include making large donations, not having the financial resources to provide adequate food and shelter for children, or preventing interaction with friends due to differences in religious beliefs. , thereby impairing children’s social skills.
In doing so, child guidance centers and local governments are urged to pay particular attention to the fact that they may be influenced by doctrinal ways of thinking and values, and may not be able to recognize the damage caused by abuse.
Additionally, there are concerns that counseling parents may escalate abuse and increase pressure on families from religious groups. The guideline is to give top priority to the safety of the children and put them in temporary protection without hesitation.
Children over the age of 18 who are not eligible for protection at child guidance centers are introduced by local governments to counseling facilities such as legal counseling centers and welfare offices.
Child guidance centers already have guidelines for dealing with child abuse, but this is the first time that guidelines specific to the children of believers have been formulated. Additionally, the ministry bases these guidelines on interviews conducted with some of the children in question.