Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said the Law Reform Commission has been studying cases where children were seriously harmed or even killed due to negligence or abuse by their carers, and will wrap up its work in two months’ time.
One of the commission’s preliminary proposals is a new offence that will see unlawful acts or negligence that cause children severe harm or death punished by a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.
Law said the commission also considered making it mandatory for professionals who regularly interact with children to report the case, enabling immediate intervention.
Carol Szeto, chief executive officer of Save the Children Hong Kong, voiced support for a mandatory reporting system.
“For schools and community organisations that work with children, we need to establish a mandatory reporting system so that all professionals and individuals who regularly interact with children can report any level of suspected child abuse cases and for them to get immediate intervention,” she told RTHK’s Jim Gould.
Szeto also said existing laws should be toughened, such as outlawing corporal punishment to better protect children.
Law added that the Law Reform Commission has consulted different stakeholders, and the government will study its proposals carefully when they are out.