683 abuse cases against children this year: Ministry
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