By Bae Ji-sook
Children who suffer from extreme cases of abuse can often be left with significant mental or physical damage that is difficult to heal even with long-term therapy, doctors and researchers at Seoul National University Hospital said Monday.
After tracking 24 victims over five years, the scholars found that over half developed serious mental disorders, while more than 40 percent suffered from extreme physical problems.
The study was included in the latest edition of Korean Pediatric Society Journal.
The hospital's emergency medicine team studied the children ― who were an average of 8.3 years old when they checked into hospital ― to learn more about the effects of long-term child abuse.
The study was conducted through interviews with guardians and nurses.
It found that six of the subjects suffered from serious developmental disabilities while another three suffered from the physical effects of violence.
Dr. Kwan Young-ho said that one of the children, who checked into the hospital for a skull fracture, developed a case of cerebral hemorrhage. Another child, who had fractures of the face and head, died of related complications.
Thirteen of the victims were diagnosed as having difficulties in a variety of social situations.
According to Kwak's data, 76 children were referred to the hospital for child abuse between 1987 and 2007.
About two-thirds of the victims were female, and about half of them were aged between three and 10. However, 7.9 percent were not even 12 months old.
The largest portion of offenders comprised of fathers, accounting for 33 percent. Mothers followed at 11 percent.
``Post-traumatic stress from abuse could have a more lasting effect on children than many people may expect. They need their parents, experts and the government for long-term support,'' Hwang June-won, a researcher for the project said.
Doctors are expected to report suspected cases of child abuse to the authorities. ``In some countries, the authorities do not revoke the licenses of physicians who have ignored the signs of possible abuse,'' the doctors said in their report.