Mar 25, 2012 News
…As continued efforts are made to reduce violence against children
The need for child friendly spaces at the local health centres has been underscored as one of the
measures needful to help protect children against violence. This notion was recently highlighted by Help and Shelter’s Colin Marks when he disclosed findings of a Child Protection Project on Friday.
The project entailed a survey, which among other questions, asked “whether health centres are child friendly places?” It was focused in Zeelugt and Hague in Region Three and Sophia and Good Hope in Region Four.
The survey, according to Marks, saw 43 per cent of the respondents agreeing that health centres are child-friendly places, 22 per cent being certain that this was not the case, while 14 per cent said they didn’t know. Another 14 per cent insisted that they were not fully child friendly.
Six per cent said that this was sometimes the case while the remaining one per cent said maybe.
But according to Marks the mere fact that some of these facilities are not outfitted with an area conducive to children’s relaxation or play could be reason enough to deduce that they are not child friendly.
He said that in order to indicate that they are in control of their children, which could number at times two and three; some parents are forced to inflict physical blows on their children while visiting the health centers.
“We went into these health centres and none of them are really, really child friendly…These children have to and must run around and use the space around but this is the time that they get some licks and lashes…if a child (does not) have a little soft toy or something to play with….something that is child-friendly to focus then they will run around.
“And some people don’t like people to think they have unruly children and so the licks and lashes will follow.”
Such action, according to Marks, is tantamount to unwarranted violence. As such the project focused on reducing violence and better protecting children even as it promoted an awareness process which saw the facilitation of 51 parenting programmes within the target communities.
A total of 652 parents, 102 teachers and 277 youths were reached as a result. In addition, Marks said that child abuse posters and parenting booklets were printed and disseminated within the communities. Further, he noted that a Community-based parenting model is currently a work in progress to enhance awareness of the child rights protection movement.
The awareness strategy also saw parenting handbooks and training manuals donated to the project by Childlink Inc. being disseminated while 188 child abuse posters were disseminated to shops, internet cafes, police stations, barber shops, gas stations, community centres, churches and health centres.
Meanwhile, in a bid to introduce standard protocols for nurses, teachers and caregivers to enhance their ability to recognise child abuse and render correct responses within the child protection system, 60 health care professionals, including nurses, medex, midwives and community health workers were trained, Marks said.
Also, 21 teachers, including Sunday school teachers, were trained while 322 child abuse definitions and child protection handouts were distributed, Marks added.
Additionally, empowering children and families to respond to and report child abuse, the provision of counselling and court support for children affected was promoted with the distribution of 228 fliers disseminated at health centres.
Marks revealed too that the project also worked towards encouraging Child Protection Agency and Health professionals to recommit to collaborate. The efforts, he said, were however not limited to awareness and the introduction of protocols but according to him there were therapeutic interventions with 77 children and ‘Be Safe’ sessions were conducted with 387 children.
A total of 493 children were reached through nursery school session and other engagements within the target communities, he added.
Marks added that 72 children were referred to the Child Care and Protection Agency for interventions, nine were placed in foster care, five were reintegrated in the school system while four families were referred for social assistance and seven parents referred for counselling support.
As part of the project, too, there were moves to create an effective network of persons, groups and organisations within the target communities to work and respond to the safety and wellbeing of children.
As a result, three of the target communities have formed action groups to promote child safety and work at cascading the parenting sessions within the community. Moreover more persons are reporting child abuse using the Child Protection Agency’s hotline number, Marks said, even as he revealed that there has been increased understanding of the child protection system.
Further, he noted that community action groups have since taken on the responsibility to disseminate literary and non literary materials that promote the safety and wellbeing of children. In addition Parent/Teacher Association members and policing groups are now members of community coalition.
Marks said that Demerara Tobacco Company has also embraced the work of the project and has since donated signs to be distributed to shops within the communities that state they will not sell cigarettes to children.
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