18 Sep 2013

American Samoa considers tighter laws to combat child abuse

3:19 pm on 18 September 2013

A parliamentary hearing in American Samoa has been told that nearly 130 cases of child abuse have been reported to the Department of Human and Social Services so far this year.

For the full 12 months last year between 140 and 160 cases were reported.

This is according to data cited by the territory's Children and Family Services during a House hearing considering new legislation covering child abuse and neglect crimes.

There have been concerns the current laws are unconstitutional because they are too vague.

The deputy attorney general, Mitzie Jessop, says the purpose of the new bill is to distinguish between disciplining and abuse of children.

"In the bill you are talking about unreasonable force, where they are burning, they are biting, they are cutting their own children. And as difficult as it may be for us as Samoans to believe, but I have had these types of cases."