This is Child Protection Week and Guyana has joined 120 countries to observe this week under the theme, “Promoting Social Change to Stop the Violation of Children”.

The Ministry of Social Protection, which is spearheading the observance here, is, therefore, amplifying the need for change in the way the society views and treats children so as to put an end to child abuse in all forms, especially sexual abuse.

Child protection activities for this week will be done across the Regions and the Public is invited to attend these events since Child Protection is everyone’s business.

According to the Ministry, child sexual abuse is a hidden crime done behind closed doors with victims literally without a voice to tell of abuse, and adults knowing and condoning this abuse by looking the other way. “This violation of our children must stop. We must break the silence on child sexual abuse. Children who can speak must be encouraged to tell and we must speak out and stand up for those who cannot,” the Ministry has urged.

Community-based organizations, including faith-based organizations; the family, the school, the community/neighbourhood and every segment of society, all have a vital role to play in safeguarding children – preventing abuse, harm, and exploitation. Added to this, the Ministry through its Childcare and Protection Agency, has been stressing the need for families to be educated, assisted and supported in their parenting role. Children, too, have to be empowered and given information for the first line of defense against child abuse, the Ministry has noted.

It has, however, added that “it is not the children’s responsibility to protect themselves. This is the role of adults. We must change our attitudes toward children. We must see them, not as miniature adults but as little people needing our care and protection. We must change those social norms that continue to nurture the abuse and exploitation of children at the highest level.”

The Childcare and Protection Agency has commenced a Multi-media Awareness Campaign across the Regions to educate the populace on the plight of children who suffer abuse and to highlight signs and symptoms to propel the public into protective action. The Agency’s 24-hour hot-line service – 227-0979 is in effect and “anything that does not look right for a child is probably not right,” so it must be reported.

The efforts to educate, sensitize and support parents in their parenting role is being at the community level by the Agency through its collaboration with Faith-Based and Community-Based Organisations.


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