VILNIUS, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Lithuanian leaders pledged to rapidly adopt law amendments aimed at improving child rights protection services in the wake of a four-year-old minor who being severely beaten to death in Kedainiai.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite stressed on Friday that not every level of the child rights protection system was operating properly and professionalism was lacking in the case of a stepfather suspected of having beaten his four-year-old stepson to death.
The tragic incident took place in a central Lithuanian town on Thursday. After being severely physically abused at his home, the victim died early Friday morning in hospital.
The boy's mother and her boyfriend were suspected of the crime and arrested, and a pre-trial investigation was launched, news agency Elta reported.
"Some elements of the chain (of the social care system) either are afraid or don't want to take responsibility, for example, in cases when it must be decided whether the child must be taken away from his family; if it is not done, the child might face physical harm and his life may be endangered, as the latest case proved," Grybauskaite was quoted as saying by local media.
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis underlined that the boy could have been protected from violence weeks ago but this was not done.
"There are amendments submitted by the president that oblige child rights protection services to respond promptly and accommodate kids in a safe environment not later than one working day," Skvernelis noted.
"This (legislation) must be adopted under utmost urgency," the prime minister added.
Lithuania parliament (Seimas) intends to hold an extraordinary session after the fatal child abuse case in order to urgently consider draft laws on children's rights.
Reacting to the tragedy involving the child's death, Lithuanian society lit candles in towns across the country to show support to children and express their outrage about violence against minors.
At the beginning of 2017, President Grybauskaite submitted legal amendments to the Seimas to secure children's rights protection. The president underlined at the time that the government and society must do everything possible to stop multiple incidents when children face aggression or lack of adult responsibility within their family environment.
As the President's Office said earlier, currently, there are around 18,664 children being raised in about 10,000 at-risk families in Lithuania. More than 2,000 children were victims of domestic violence in 2016.
The legal amendments were for more effective and timely activities by the state's child rights protection and adoption service, and a legal framework to ensure activities of professional guardians who would immediately take care of children facing serious problems at home.
Nearly a year ago, a similar tragedy occurred, also in Kedainiai district. On Jan. 2, 2016 in Savieciai, a small village in the district, a man killed two out of four of his kids by throwing them into a well during a family conflict.
After the Savieciai tragedy, responsible officials were called to prepare a binding methodology for children's rights municipal departments, local health centers, and other local institutions. However, multiple experts and observers were insisting it was a matter of time until the next issue in terms of children safety in their domestic environment.
Domestic violence against children has been one of the most sensitive public issues recently in Lithuania, a Baltic country facing serious demographic challenges, such as a rapidly aging society and a shrinking population.