Our commitment to protecting children in Malaysia
“GET ON BOARD” – GRAND CONCLUSION
WELCOME SPEECH BY
The Get on Board campaign to stop child abuse has been a huge and unconventional undertaking for UNICEF in Malaysia. Traditionally, our efforts in promoting child safety have been through our partnership with the Government and child protection civil society organisations. But we also recognise the crucial role the public plays, as they are the first line of defence in protecting children. And so we decided to invest in a public advocacy campaign that hopes to inspire individuals to act on behalf on children by providing them with protection tips and action ideas.
But how important is advocacy when child abuse happens behind closed doors and drawn curtains, where noone else is present besides the abused child and his abuser? And how important is it to have just a little bit of extra knowledge in something as serious and damaging as child abuse? Both are extremely important, and possibly life saving. This is precisely the reason why UNICEF embarked on this campaign.
Over the last two months, we have sought to engage with members of the public through whatever channels available to us – be it face-to-face at promotional booths and ground events organised specially for the campaign; through newspapers, television and radio networks; via email blasts to our civil society organisation partners, donors and friends in the private sector; through web advertising, social media and blogs; and of course, with much help from important advocates including the Minister herself, our official Campaign Advocates and Champions for Children. We exhausted every opportunity we had to engage with the public and called for a mind shift among the people, from a society that otherwise mind its own business to one that intervenes and acts on behalf of children.
UNICEF also invested in creating a website accessible in English and Bahasa Malaysia so that each individual, adult or child, is equipped with basic knowledge on child abuse and are provided a directory of sorts for who they can contact to make a report or seek advice. We knew from the start that to effect the kind of change we hope to see in society, this campaign would have to be a steady marathon and not merely a two-month sprint. I am therefore pleased to announce that UNICEF will continue to host the website beyond the official duration of the campaign so that more people can benefit from it in the weeks and months to come.
On this note, I would like to invite all of you and the organisations you represent to fully utilise the website and continue to share the link www.uniteagainstabuse.my with your family and friends. I would also like to propose that the website is promoted in schools among teachers, students and parents. The content provided is not only useful as a reference guide, but can also be used in the classroom as a topic of discussion or as part of schoolwork, for example in an exercise in essay writing. This in fact would be a good way for teachers and parents to gauge a child’s understanding of abuse and perhaps even gain insight on her own feelings about it.
On the website as well as in our face-to-face engagement, UNICEF has provided a “sign-up” platform for individuals to unite in this cause. It is not a petition, rather an opportunity for people, young and old, to come together and outwardly express their commitment to act against child abuse. We believe that as more people come out and commit to this cause, others will be encouraged to do the same. The opportunity to “sign-up” is also to show solidarity with abused children who suffer in silence. Let us continue to express our support and assure these children that this is a society that cares.
For UNICEF, the closing of the campaign today does not mark the end of our efforts, rather a transition into the next phase of our continuous effort to stop child abuse. UNICEF is a constant campaigner for children and will hereon work on strengthening the various partnerships forged during this campaign to push the agenda forward for child protection in Malaysia. Indeed, we will continue to share new ideas with our partners and offer our worldwide expertise in child safety to the various Government agencies, civil society and private organisations onboard this campaign.
Together with our diverse pool of partners, we have succeeded in creating awareness among members of the public who have now entrusted us with the responsibility to progress further in this cause. The extent of public outreach achieved during this campaign would not have possible without the steadfast support of our media partners – from newspaper and magazine publications, to television networks and radio stations.
The first of its kind for UNICEF in the East Asia and Pacific region, Get on Board as a digitally-driven campaign owes much of its success to our digital partners who rallied the online community and inspired hundreds of blog posts, Facebook posts and Tweets. Our digital partners were also instrumental in UNICEF Malaysia’s first ever Tweet-up which brought together representatives from the Government, activists, regular members of civil society as well as popular Twitterers. Hundreds of Tweets were generated during the discussions under the hash tag #UNICEFMY, reaching thousands of social media users in Malaysia and abroad.
We were also very encouraged when a group of young people from an organisation called RandomAlphabets responded to the campaign by organising a flash mob on Universal Children’s Day. Yet another “first” for UNICEF Malaysia, the flash mob themed “Hide-n-Seek” supported the campaign’s call for individuals to equip themselves with the right knowledge tools and act to stop child abuse.
But ultimately, these activities including those organised on UNICEF Malaysia’s official Facebook Page, such as the online Day of Solidarity held on the 19th of November in conjunction with the Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse as well as the Facebook photography competition, would not have been successful without genuine support by concerned individuals who truly care for children and want to see change in society.
I would like to take this opportunity to also acknowledge our corporate partners who contributed to this campaign and advocated this cause among their staff. Not forgetting our civil society organisation partners, particularly Childline Malaysia whom we worked very closely with throughout this campaign. Last but not least, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development for all the support they have provided us throughout this campaign. A special thanks is also due to Dato’ Seri Shahrizat herself, for her personal commitment to this cause as she was one of the first to get onboard when this campaign was launched two months ago.
Thank you all, and we look forward to continue working with you to protect children in Malaysia.
Speeches: Get on Board!
Don't Leave Me Alone
Get on Board! website
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