683 abuse cases against chil­dren this year: Min­istry

Fiji Sun - - Nation - SHAHANI MALA shahani.mala@fi­jisun.com.fj

The Min­istry of Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion has recorded 683 cases of abuse against chil­dren in Fiji so far this year. Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary for Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion Dr Josefa Koroivueta said: “This num­ber is alarm­ing and to­tally un­ac­cept­able. “The thing to un­der­stand is no child is im­mune.

“Those at risk cut across all bound­aries of age, gen­der, re­li­gion, eth­nic ori­gin, dis­abil­ity, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and/ or gen­der iden­tity and ex­pres­sion. We just can­not con­done this any longer, be­cause the im­pact of this is se­verely dam­ag­ing.” Dr Koroivueta said this while speak­ing at the Na­tional Chil­dren’s Fo­rum at the Al­bert Park Pav­il­lion in Suva, on Fri­day. “Ev­ery year, roughly six in 10 chil­dren be­tween the ages of two and 14, or nearly a bil­lion chil­dren world­wide, are reg­u­larly sub­jected to phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment by their care­givers. “We were all chil­dren once. This is some­thing we all have in com­mon. Many of us have a child or are in­volved in the lives of chil­dren in some way. “We want chil­dren to grow up to be happy, healthy, strong and pro­duc­tive. We want them to thrive. Chil­dren are both the present and the fu­ture,” he said. Dr Koroivueta said the chil­dren rep­re­sent the next wave of par­ents, grand­par­ents, care­givers, teach­ers, doc­tors, po­lice of­fi­cers, judges, com­mu­nity lead­ers, faith-based lead­ers, politi­cians and de­ci­sion mak­ers. “How we ad­dress the vi­o­lence af­fect­ing chil­dren to­day will have a di­rect bear­ing on fu­ture fam­i­lies and so­ci­eties. “We need to guard the in­tegrity of child­hood now and into the fu­ture,” he said. Dr Koroivueta said look­ing at the im­pact that vi­o­lence has on chil­dren, it is safe to say that it can be life­long, and even passed from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. “When young peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence vi­o­lence, the like­li­hood of their be­com­ing fu­ture vic­tims and of act­ing vi­o­lently them­selves as adults in­creases. “Vic­tim can be­come per­pe­tra­tor. Yet, vi­o­lence is not in­evitable. We can and must break the cy­cle,” he said. Dr Koroivueta said re­search shows that vi­o­lence can neg­a­tively im­pact chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tional per­for­mance and achieve­ment, which can have long-term eco­nomic con­se­quences, in­clud­ing poverty. There were about 50 chil­dren from 47 schools around Fiji, tak­ing part in the fo­rum, which ended yes­ter­day. Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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