Protecting our children

Children who attended the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse in Lautoka on Saturday last week. Picture: MINISTRY OF WOMEN, CHILDREN AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION

ON November 19, Fiji commemorated the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse in synergy with the International Day for the Rights of the Child.

In 2000, the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF), a non-governmental organisation, launched the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse on November 19.

WWSF, along with an international coalition of advocacy organisations for women and children’s issues, mobilised governments and societies to take action and prevent child abuse which was observed in many countries around the world on November 19.

It is a worldwide issue and increased attention and efficient protection skills and prevention measure are necessary at family, local, sub national and national levels to help address the issue.

After a long tradition of silence, child abuse and neglect is being denounced and becoming a public and political issue of concern with children.

The theme for this year is “Stronger Families, Safer Children” which takes Fiji’s focus back to the primary caregivers of children and their role in preventing child abuse and neglect.

In 2017, there were 1145 reported cases of child abuse and neglect to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

It meant that every day in 2017, three children were either being abused or neglected which is three children too many.

More than half of the Child Welfare Act statistics, according to the ministry, are that of abused and neglected children.

Those data inform the ministry that the primary caregivers of children were not with them when the abuse happened or for some, they are the perpetrators.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta said the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, or PCAN was observed globally in November every year.

“PCAN is a worldwide effort to mobilise our collective responsibility to prevent and confront all forms of child abuse and neglect,” Dr Koroivueta said.

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another.

“Any organisation/church or community can be no healthier than its families. No government can long endure without strong families.

“Never before have there been many insidious influences threatening the family as of today in the world, many of these evil influences come right into the home through television, radio, magazines, newspapers, social media and other forms of literature.

“Parents and guardians as leaders in your homes you need to be mindful and concerned about the type of programs your family is watching.

“In the media today, there is so much that is unsavory and degrading that it is detrimental to the child.

“What also influences a child’s behavior and character are the things they are exposed to outside of their homes, especially from their peers in schools, church and neighbourhood.

“Sometimes these influences are positive, whereby you learn new things from other children; you socialise for an important cause but sometimes, what children see in their homes and in the world outside may negatively influence them.

“For example, research has established that most perpetrators of violence come from backgrounds where they witness or experience violence as a child.

“I again encourage parents to ensure that your child is reared in a home where the child is safe from all kinds of negative influences.”

He encouraged parents to teach their children good and correct principles with love and genuine care so they would be able to govern themselves into a manner that would be pleasing to their parents.

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