Happy Children’s Day

Editorial

IT is Universal Children’s Day today.
A day set aside purposely by the United Nations to promote and celebrate children’s rights and promote togetherness and awareness amongst all children.
The goal of Universal Children’s day is to improve child welfare worldwide.
This day will be marked worldwide by children and fun activities will be underscored by a serious message – raising awareness of issues affecting children with speeches about child welfare, wellbeing and rights as well as events celebrating childhood.
Nothing much has been said of the day in the country except for a statement from Save the Children and Buk Bilong Pikinini for their planned events.
Save the Children PNG is celebrating Universal Children’s Day today by asking children what they would tell the Prime Minister if they had the chance.
The aid agency is hosting events at several schools in Goroka, Wewak, Buka, Lae and Port Moresby, where children would be given the opportunity to send their message to Prime Minister James Marape.
The theme of the day is Pikinini Kisim Bek, meaning ‘children take back’.
Students will write what they want to say to the PM on a billboard. Responses from across the country will be put together in a report and given to Prime Minister Marape and the Office of Child and Family Services.
The child protection system in Papua New Guinea suffers from limited financial and human resources capacity; weak governance and coordination mechanism, inadequate access to both preventive and responsive services as well as lack of reliable data.
A children’s inaugural forum was held in Port Moresby in 2017 attended by children.
Issues affecting adults also affect our children but many times our children are unable to speak, so that forum made them part of the discussions; they suggested some of the solutions to issues affecting our country – school fights, drugs and alcohol, social media and, of course, their understanding of gender-based domestic violence.
Violence, including physical, sexual and emotional violence as well as neglect, is a daily reality for most children in PNG, making them feel unsafe in their very own homes and communities.
Violence of any kind, be it physical, emotional or sexual can be devastating with short and long-term repercussions on a child’s health and well-being. It impairs children’s cognitive development and perpetuates inequalities.
The advent of new technologies, particularly mobile phones and internet access, are also bringing new opportunities and risks.
While the numbers of children in school are higher than ever, the challenge of achieving quality education is not being met. Being in school is not the same as learning; more than 60 per cent of primary school children in developing countries still fail to achieve minimum proficiency in learning and half the world’s teens face violence in and around school, so it doesn’t feel like a place of safety.
Conflicts continue to deny children the protection, health and futures they deserve. The list of ongoing child rights challenges is long.
The actual number of children experiencing violations is not easy to determine.
This type of data is hard to collect and is not updated frequently.
Governments, communities, local authorities and non-governmental organisations, including faith-based and community-based organisations, can help ensure that children grow up in a family environment. They can make sure that schools and communities protect all children and prevent child maltreatment.
No one said this would be easy but we need to protect our children now to secure the future of PNG.

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