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If children could grow up without the fear of abuse

“GET ON BOARD” – GRAND CONCLUSION
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA  •  Wednesday, 15 December 2010

SPEECH BY
MS. ZOÉ LIM SHU MEI (16)
Child Representative Coordinator &
Child Representative for MBPJ Child Council

© UNICEF Malaysia/2010/Zahri
Zoe Lim Shue Mei (16)

Can you imagine not being counted?

To be hurt, beaten, raped, ignored, yelled at... day after and yet no one seems to care or at the least know about it. Why is it okay for people to go to work, leaving their children behind for a 12 hour job with no one to talk to, no one to guide them? But yet it’s somehow ungrateful for a child to feel angry at their parents for neglecting them for “supplying the family financially”? Why is it okay for us to turn our backs to “things that do not involve us”? But at the same time it can still be wrong that abuse is still happening?

You agree that child abuse should be stopped, but what are you going to do about it? Stand behind your window and watch your neighbor beat his child? Walk past red light districts knowing that there are women under 18 selling their bodies to strangers? Tell your child to keep quiet, study harder and respect elders when they come home complaining that their teachers scold them, tell them they can’t see any future in them, that they are too stupid to follow the rest of the class, that only idiots won’t know the answer to this question?

How much longer do you want to ignore the cries of the children in our society, the leaders of tomorrow, the country’s greatest assets, the people who will benefit you in the future? More than two thousand of the people are crying out. What have we done so far? We are “minding our own business”. We are letting other people parent their children the way they see it fit. We blindly trust the “expertise” of verbal abusers to take care of our children six hours a day, five days a week. We are leaving the problem for someone else to handle. Someone who has more time on their hands, but what never occurs to us… is that ultimately that someone we’re leaving it to is the victim itself.

People need to realize that it is “their business” to intervene. You are your society, and your society is currently hosting 2780 victims, maybe more. Tip of the iceberg shows the 7 kids a day suffer from abuse. What if one of those seven was a child you know? What would you do?

We need to not just know, but DO something about the abuse in our society. It’s going on around us, next to us, behind us, in front of us. We need to know how to recognize victims, indentify problems and help the children. With definite numbers, we can see the “who” and the “where”. Through that we can find out the “why” and the “how”, why is child abuse happening? And how can we stop this from happening?

Awareness is not only the beginning, but the foundation of change. A strong foundation is vital for our plans in the future. That's why it's important for people of all generations to get on board, and create more awareness amongst their social circles. But it doesn’t stop there; we have to be prepared to do more than educating others. We are the change that we want to see. If we don’t make a move, no one else will.

Imagine if children could grow up without the fear of abuse. To be able to ask the questions they want to ask and not be looked at as naïve, uneducated, or disrespectful. To be able to return home without having the fear of the drunk relatives and leather belts. To be able to walk around knowing the REAL value of their body and have pride in it. To be able to have people complimenting their strengths and encouraging them instead of constantly thinking they are hopeless. Who wouldn’t want that? If we all play our roles, we can get there.

I hope for my generation to set the benchmark in prevention of child abuse. I’m happy that my government acknowledges its responsibility of the suffering of its children, and I thank them for the effort that they are putting in this cause. Our jobs are not done yet. Getting on board is but the first part of change. Acknowledge our responsibility for the abused, take action to help them and prevent the possibility of victims in the future.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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  •  Media Centre

Child Protection: Malaysia

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15 December 2010:
Collaborating to map out child abuse

15 December 2010:
If children could grow up without the fear of abuse

28 November 2010:
OP-ED: Duty of all to stop child abuse

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