WIDER CONSCIOUSNESS OF CHILD ABUSE AND CHILD NEGLECT NEEDED
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Consumer Conern
Consumer Conern

EVERY year since 2004, Child Protection Week has been commemorated where parents and communities countrywide are reminded to be aware of, and avoid abuse and neglect of children. Child Protection Week is commemorated worldwide and each country has its own individual theme for the Week. Guyana’s Week was from September 24 – 30, and this year’s theme was “Partnering with families and communities for the positive outcomes for children”.

These two groups – the family and the community – are the main protectors of children and are the ones who must be at the forefront dealing with abuse and neglect.
Children are generally innocent of the evils and wickedness of the adult world and they approach everyone with trusting honesty. It is a great delight to speak with children whom one does not know. One may encounter such children and their parents in the shops or in the public transport and their innocence, simple conversations and smiles uplift one’s day. When Jesus called for little children to be brought unto him, it was probably the same kind of love and response he had for them.

It is because of their trusting innocence and defencelessness that children are open to dangers and abuse. One of the most common forms of child abuse is that of sexual molestation and exploitation. Most of this form of abuse occurs within the family where an adult member who is a pervert, indulges in incestuous and underage sexual activity with children. There is no one to whom the child could complain or find relief in telling of its abuse and is often constrained by affection for the abuser, an older relative.

Or the child may be constrained by fear that the abuser could harm him or her in many ways. Or pedophiles could entice children into their company and then harm them. Or some child molesters may violently attack children as happened recently when 13-year old Leonard Archibald of Brothers village in East Bank Berbice was violently attacked, sexually assaulted and murdered and his body dumped into the river.

Or there is another well-known form of child abuse when children are subject to beatings in the family or in the schools. Some parents beat their children for the slightest infractions causing the child untold humiliation and mental and physical pain. The child, socialised with parental respect and reverence, cannot even daydream of leaving home and suffers even deeper mental anguish.

Corporal punishment, though against the law, is still perpetrated by many teachers. Such beatings in the schools not only inflict great pain on the child but may often destroy the child’s ability to learn.

In these forms of child abuse, a member of the family or the community could either confront the abuser or call the Police or involve the Child Protection Agency of the Ministry of Social Protection. The Child Protection Agency has a 24-hour hotline at 227- 0979.
Children are more aware than adults suspect and sensitive and deeply emotionally hurt when they are treated without any show of concern from parents and guardians.

For example, a school child may be in need of proper clothes, shoes or books, but the child’s elders are completely insensitive to the child’s needs and embarrassment and may even be oblivious that the child needs a meal. There is no one to whom the child could turn and the child may drop out of school and join the ranks of the child labour market.

And when the child drops out, he or she is abused of being stupid and without ambition.
In the abuse and neglect which children suffer, the only help and protection they could have are from the sensitive neighbours or members of the community who may sometimes invoke the notice of the Childcare and Protection Agency or a relevant NGO (non-governmental organisation).

One of the most effective ways of dealing with child abuse and neglect is to make the public more aware of the sufferings which children must endure and also for parents to learn more about parenting.

The Childcare and Protection Agency offers education in this regard and it is hoped that they would be able to expand their service.

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