Thu, 26 May 2022 Today's Paper

Care and support to ensure child protection in Sri Lanka

Today is Children’s Day

1 October 2020 02:03 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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There has been a marked increase in reported cases of child abuse in recent times. The contribution made towards this end by both the ‘1929 Sri Lanka Child Helpline and the media has been significant.


Media institutions made great efforts to create public awareness regarding the 1929 Child Helpline from its inception, and we should thank them for their support.


Although I keep my fingers crossed, I wonder whether this article can actually better the lives of children. During the past, we have doubted whether our children could live in a safer or more secure environment.


Some unbelievable incidents took place in our country, where our children were faced with terrible situations. The incidents in our society show that currently, these children are not safe even with their mother, father or grandparents.


Parents who should be the most appropriate protectors have sometimes become the violators of the rights of children. Some fathers and grandfathers are accused of abusing children physically and sexually. 


Even in schools some principals and teachers are accused of sexual abuse. Recently some incidents took place at private tuition classes, where tuition masters were accused of sexual abuse.


Children are an invaluable asset to a nation. Unfortunately, looking at the incidents that took place in the past year, it is apparent that we have been unable to protect that asset. The beautiful world of the child is enveloped by dark clouds created by some adults like parents, close relations, friends, principals, teachers, clergymen, school van drivers etc. Some of the perpetrators are respected and trusted persons. A large percentage of those who abuse children are from these groups.


The handbook for Journalists published by the National Child Protection Authority in August 2012 has a vital clause as follows: 


Article 37 - Torture and Imprisonment
(a)No child shall be subjected to misfortune or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. 


(b)No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. 


(c)Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. 


(d)Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority and to a prompt decision on any such action. 


Recently, incidents of children losing their lives at school mainly due to the inexperience of teachers and even principals were reported. Children are sent to school because the parents trust and rely on the authorities for their safety. But when deaths and injuries occur, parents lose confidence in the entire education system.


Needless to say, children are our future. Providing them with a suitable environment for their growth and development to thrive is everybody’s responsibility.


Nelson Mandela once said:
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”

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