Why 4 minutes 4 change?
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HERE are four good reasons. One, it takes just under 4 minutes to read this article, and during that time, we want to evoke change in the negative way some grown-ups view children. Two, we hope that people will find the courage to call the Childcare and Protection Agency’s (CPA) Hotline (227 0979) if they know or suspect child abuse instead of turning a blind eye. Three, we think anyone reading this article will pass on relevant information to friends or family members who will benefit from the content and subjects we raise. Four, children are among our most vulnerable citizens – we must protect and support them.

This article began in the chronicle newspaper over four years ago as part of a public awareness campaign to help adults recognise the needs of children in Guyana. By sharing stories and information, giving advice and highlighting issues, we aim to help adults learn effective childcare methods; and gain a better understanding of child development.

Behavioural change does not happen overnight; sometimes, it takes years or the evolution of an entire generation before a change occurs, and people get the message – TODAY’S CHILDREN ARE TOMORROW’S ADULTS, PROTECT THEM. TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT, DIGNITY, LOVE AND AFFECTION. DO NOT ABUSE THEM IN ANY WAY- THEY ARE RELYING ON YOU FOR GUIDANCE, SAFETY AND DIRECTION.

The message seems obvious and one that most adults should know and naturally follow, but some do not have the devotion or inclination to nurture or cherish children correctly. As a result, children suffer physical and sexual abuse daily – neglect by their loved ones and in some cases, abandonment. Although reports are brought to the attention of the CPA and investigated, many issues of child abuse remain unreported and undetected.

It can be hard to imagine people deliberately causing harm to (their) children or not taking every precaution to prevent it from happening. But such is the indifference of some parents; they have no emotional connection to their offspring other than, ‘That is MY child, I am the Father’ or ‘Is MY child, is I make he’. They are unaware of the essential parental factors of nurturing, caring and keeping their child safe from harm.

Equally as disturbing can be the lack of response from adults who witness child abuse but fail to do their moral duty and make a report to the relevant authorities. They convince themselves it is not their problem or they don’t want to get into ‘people’s story’. Sometimes they know the abuser and do not want any ‘backlash’ for opening their mouth, so they keep quiet and allow the abuse to continue. Most abused children suffer at the hands of people they know, and not strangers, as many assume.

Reporting child abuse is the moral obligation of all adults in Guyana and can be anonymous. There is no reason why someone should fear getting into trouble for reporting their suspicion or knowledge of abuse. Where there is a will, there is a way – civilised citizens would not sit by without trying to alert authorities. Neither would they give up until they know that the child or children in question are safe. Children depend on the adults of Guyana to look out for them; they cannot protect themselves.

For years we have highlighted in this space how much children rely on people like you to speak up on their behalf and advocate for their rights and protection. All citizens have a right to be concerned for the future of maltreated children. What type of adults they will become without intervention from well-meaning citizens, such as teachers, social workers, neighbours, family members, community workers, you and local authorities? Luckily some laws in Guyana supersede parental rights when they fail to safeguard children and alternative arrangements are made for their care and protection.

The best place for children however, will always be with their parents and families. Children develop, strive and learn about life and the world within their family unit. Children have an innate longing to belong, they need their families, and they want their families to care for them. No child likes to be away from his/her loved ones, even when they have suffered abuse. A loving, caring, secure family will enable a child to reach his/her fullest potential.

Assisting families who may lack specific skills and know-how through this column is imperative if we are going to help change the lives of vulnerable children. Part of the work at the CPA seeks to keep families together where ever possible by helping parents to access and accept support where they lack particular parenting skills or good judgement. Removing children from their homes is the last resort and is only carried out in extreme cases where children are at risk.

Parenting skills workshops take place in different regions for adults who have come to the attention of the CPA. Officers monitor and review cases of children in institutional care to keep them connected to their loved ones where possible, with the prospect of reintegration at some stage.

When it comes to safeguarding and raising our children, we should join forces to do what is suitable for their self-esteem, overall development and well-being; they are Guyana’s future workforce and deserve all the support they need. Adults alone have the ability to change the lives of vulnerable children.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at childcaregy@gmail.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY

 

 

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