WITH the increase in child abuse cases, there is an urgent need for the police to be skilled with child protection issues.
At a Police Juvenile Bureau workshop on safety of children yesterday, bureau officer-in-charge Orisi Tukana, said there was an urgent need to develop protection measures for children.
According to the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) 132 child abuse cases were reported during the first five months. Of this, 47 cases were reported in January, 11 in February, 41 in March, 12 in April and 21 in May.
Abuse and sexual abuse topped the list with 68 cases recorded in the first five months.
Mr Tukana said during the period 18 physical abuse cases were recorded and also neglect and malnutrition cases.
"I see there's a need for the police to be skilled with child protection issues. We have been working with young people on this operation," he said.
The five-day training will equip 21 police officers with skills and techniques required to face a child when brought to the station as a victim or offender.
"When a child walks into the police station as a victim or as an offender, these are the police officers who are going to be dealing with them.
"Why are we doing this? Because most times children suffer some form of harm before they walk into a police station."
UNICEF juvenile specialist Tim Fenlon has undertaken a number of activities to address the issue.
"Fifty focal point officers have been appointed throughout Fiji to be a point of contact for child protection services. For these people to conduct their responsibility successfully, they need to undergo specialised training," he said.
The good relationship between UNICEF and the police is the outcome of the training.
"There have been figures released and there is a slight decrease of child abuse and I don't think the attitude is on the increase or on the decrease. We got to deal with it no matter what level it is," Mr Fenlon said.