Parents’ role vital

Save the Children Fiji CEO Iris Low McKenzie. Picture: FT FILE

PARENTS need to teach their children about inappropriate touches and behaviour because of the rise in child sex abuse cases in the country, says Save the Children Fiji CEO Iris McKenzie.

She also said it was critical that parents and guardians closely monitored children’s internet use and paid close attention to friends and family members who acted inappropriately to children.

Ms McKenzie said sexual offence statistics released by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions(ODPP) revealed that the magnitude of the child sexual abuse problem in Fiji was far more prevalent than what people thought because it reflected reported cases only.

She said 90 per cent of perpetrators knew their victims and it was concerning that those who intentionally hurt children were neighbours, friends and family members.

It was therefore important that children know they could “tell someone” about inappropriate touches.

“Adults must act on their commitment to keeping children safe by learning to recognise and respond to inappropriate behaviours around children before a child is harmed.”

Ms McKenzie said the issue could be addressed through close collaboration between stakeholders.

“We also need to be able to understand the risk factors, consequence of abuse, signs of abuse and the background of the perpetrators to really address the root causes.

“We also need to stay attuned to children’s use of technology — keep it visible to you for inappropriate content or individuals who intentionally want to hurt children.”

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