Mini Bus Operators enlisted to help fight child abuse in Guyana
Georgetown, Guyana, September 23, 2010 - The call for fathers to be more responsible as the head of the household and every person be a child protector were the challenges issues at a one-hour outreach programme held by the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, in collaboration with UNICEF at a main bus route in Georgetown.
The exercise, which is one of the many activities planned for Child Protection Week 2010 observed under the theme – “Positive Parenting: Saving Tomorrow, Today”, sought to advocate the importance of a holistic approach to eradicate and prevent child abuse with the aim of creating a protective environment for all children as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In her discourse with minibus and taxi drivers, conductors, fathers and generally parents, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Doris Roos, emphasized that fathers are the foundation on which family life is built, and as such they should handle the cares and burdens of the family. However, men are usually associated with all the negatives in society. She added that positive images of men will have an impact in changing the perception today of men while explaining that men can make a difference in the lives of their children and they should aspire to always be remembered in a positive light. “How would you want to be remembered by your children, your neighbours…none of us wants to be remembered as a rapist, a murderer or a thief,” she expounded.
Further, Ms. Roos posited that since two people were involved in making a child, it is also important for both parents to be there every step of the way in the child development. In addition, it is important to share special moments with children and praise them when necessary. As such good father figure is needed.
“Become the change you want to be; don’t look at somebody else. We always ask what is the Government doing about this and that? What are you doing in your households? You need to make a difference in your household level.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, in acknowledging the Government of Guyana’s effort to protect the rights of children and women through legislation, resounded the call for everyone to become involved in the business of child protection since those laws cannot work by themselves and society needs to partner with the government to aid in the protection of children.
“We need you the bus driver, the conductor, the businessman; we need you all to hold hands to make sure our children are safe. Your aunt’s children, your brother’s children, sister’s children, strange children…we need all of you to hold hands with the government to look out for children…everyone is a child protector, encourage them to do the right things.”
Director of Children Services, Ann Greene, said that everyone should be a child protector and assist children who appear to be in need of counseling.
Using a proactive approach, Ms. Greene urged the crowd at the car park to place the child protection hotline number in their respective phones, since if something doesn’t appear to be okay with a child it probably is not ok. “You never know when a child will need you; store this number 227-0979…you can talk to that child and direct that child where to get help…you don’t have to get proof that a child is being abused, if something just ain’t look right, then it probably is not right. Just call and tell us, we promise you that we will look into it”.
The Childcare and Protection Agency Bill was passed on January 8, 2009, providing for the establishment of a Childcare and Protection Agency and for other matters related to the care and protection of children. It empowers the Agency to implement the policies and decisions in relation to the laws governing children: the monitoring of childcare facilities; to intervene in cases where a child is abused or neglected and to protect vulnerable children.
Child protection week is celebrated each year and activities to mark this year’s observance began on Sunday, September 19th and will end on Saturday 25th.
For more information:
Leslyn Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org, UNICEF Guyana, Tel. 623 7056; 592 226 7083; 227 3662; 225 9993
Tamar Hahn, email@example.com, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, Tel. +(507) 301 7485
UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.