CHILDREN fear they will not be taken seriously or will be ridiculed if they voice their concerns on issues of national or personal interest.
This was the general feeling expressed in Lautoka yesterday during a forum seeking to establish a network between children and journalists.
A total of 27 schools were invited to the Live and Learn organised Children's Journalist Forum, facilitated by The Fiji Times' Lautoka office.
Funded by the European Union, the event will be held for two days in Lautoka before it moves to Sigatoka.
It caters for 54 students who are in Classes Seven and Eight.
Live and Learn formal education program co-ordinator Makelesi Batimala said they were aiming to strengthen students' participation in development and build their capacity so they could meaningfully engage in activities where they could speak out about the issues they faced.
"With the media, we hope to establish a network between children and the journalists," Mrs Batimala said.
"Most of the time, we notice that children are undermined and not able to express their views.
"We want to raise that level of confidence."
The workshop was held in the Northern Division last week where Mrs Batimala said a range of issues were brought up by the children.
"Children brought up (issues of) child abuse, climate change, violence against girls and boys and the crime rate in Labasa.
"I think involvement with the journalists today has motivated the students and coming in close contact with the media and being able to talk directly to media personnel has been a good experience," Mrs Batimala said.