Ministry to collaborate with UNICEF to map out child abuse
KUALA LUMPUR, 15 December 2010 – Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Senator Heng Seai Kie, announced today the Ministry will collaborate further with UNICEF to map out the full extent of child abuse in Malaysia. She said this at the closing ceremony of UNICEF’s 'Get on Board' people’s campaign to stop child abuse.
The Ministry plans to convene a meeting with UNICEF and other partners in the first quarter of 2011 to discuss the parameters and terms of reference for the study.
“We note there are information gaps that exist preventing the full understanding needed in our effort to stop child abuse. We will therefore undertake a study to better understand child abuse in Malaysia so that our policies and programmes can be tailored to address the issue more effectively. Members of the public, civil society organisations as well as our international partners can be reassured that the Government is listening and is actively pushing the agenda forward for children,” said Dato’ Senator Heng.
Statistics from the Department of Social Welfare show an increase in reported child abuse cases from an average of 7 cases a day in 2008, to 11 cases a day in the first quarter of 2010 alone. These include the various types of abuses such as neglect, physical, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. By mapping out the incidences of child abuse the Government would be able to identify and respond to the factors contributing to the rise in numbers of reported cases as well as monitor trends.
Child protection system
“UNICEF is ready to work with the Government in this next phase of the campaign. We also stand ready to collaborate with the Government to build a comprehensive and integrated child protection system, with a central focus on primary prevention and identification of at risk children and families,” said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Mr. Hans Olsen.
Child abuse. It happens everyday and still there are so many myths and misconceptions about it. What's even more alarming is the fact that the number of reported cases has been increasing in Malaysia.
The Ministry and UNICEF are already collaborating on various other child protection programmes including the Minimum Standard of Care which provides a framework of operational, care and protection for outsourced care centres run by NGOs, and also complements the National Child Protection Policy and its Action Plan.
Mr. Olsen said protecting children from abuse must be a continuous effort by every segment of society beyond any official duration of a campaign like Get on Board. The first of its kind for UNICEF in this region, the digitally-driven campaign emphasised the urgent need for a change of mindset in society, from one that is reluctant to act on child abuse to one that is informed and willing to take action, and where this is the only right thing to do.
Centred on a resource website www.uniteagainstabuse.my which is accessible in English and Bahasa Malaysia, the campaign drew unprecedented public discourse in traditional and new media. UNICEF will continue to host the website beyond the duration of the campaign so that individuals and organisations can benefit from it. Teachers are also encouraged to use content from the website in the classroom as a means to approach the issue of bullying, abuse as well as children’s rights.
A foundation for change
The closing event, held in conjunction with Human Rights Day, saw Mr. Olsen presenting prizes to winners of the “Hands are for caring, not hitting” Facebook photography contest. (Please see attached for details of the winning entries)
Sixteen-year-old Child Representative Coordinator and Child Representative for MBPJ Child Council, Zoé Lim Shu Mei, also presented the Deputy Minister with a plaque representing more than 40,000 champions for children who raised their “hand” to be counted in efforts to stop child abuse in Malaysia. Present with her were Mr. Olsen; Chairman of Childline Malaysia, Encik Sabri Abdul Rahman; and UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative, Mr. Kamal Malhotra.
Addressing more than 100 dignitaries and guests at the closing ceremony, Zoé called on people of all generations to get on board and create more awareness among their social circles to protect children. “Awareness is not only the beginning, but the foundation of change. A strong foundation is vital for our plans in the future,” she said...............................................................................................
NOTE TO EDITOR:
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2010
For more information, please contact:
Indra Kumari Nadchatram
Get on Board! website
Speeches: Get on Board!
Say No to Violence Against Children
Newsline: Get on Board
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