VIOLENCE faced at a very young age scars a person for life. Today (June 4) is the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. Violence has claimed the lives of too many children every year. It affects millions worldwide.Violence comes in many forms. Children are too often at the receiving end of acts of aggression, whether they be related to armed conflict, gangs or violence at home or in school. Here in Papua New Guinea, almost every day stories relating to violence against children are published either from the courts or the police stations. This day was established to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse and to re-affirm the importance of protecting the rights of children. However, it is also a time to recognise the resilience children can show, and how, with the right support, they can prove that being born into conflict does not have to define their lives. Child abuse and brutality is one of the most disturbing realities of our times. Young children are the most vulnerable and hence, an easy target for bullies and other perpetrators of aggression and violence. Most common types of child abuse are physical, sexual and emotional. Physical abuse is injury caused to a child from physical aggression. The injury may result from beating, pushing, shaking, kicking, throwing and burning with hot objects.
Many children are physically abused by someone close to them. Hundreds of thousands of children die from injuries inflicted upon them. For those who survive physical abuse, emotional scars are deeper than the physical scars. Sexual abuse is when a child is sexually abused when they are forced to take part in sexual activities.Globally, about 1.8 million children are victims of prostitution and pornography. Every year, one million children fall prey to trafficking. Sexual abuse is never the child’s fault. It is the responsibility of the adult not to engage in sexual acts with children, regardless of the child’s behavior. Emotional abuse is the most common type of child abuse. Children can be emotionally abused by their parents, teachers, peers or other adults in positions of power. A child suffering emotional abuse shows signs of low self-esteem, social withdrawal and lack of social skills. Emotional abuse can have a far more long-lasting negative effect than physical or sexual abuse. A 2017 Human Rights Watch report claimed that successive governments had not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, corruption or excessive use of force by police. Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted. The extent of such cases in PNG is not known partly because there is no effective reporting system. Also, most of them reported as abuses are carried out in secret and are performed on a vulnerable group who are helplessly dependent upon their adult counterparts to take some form of remedial or corrective measures. Depending on the age of these children and the status of their case, a prolonged absence of need can lead to a sense of isolation, loneliness and anxiety. Imagine being a child who has been removed from the secure environment of their family. Let us not steal away the childhood from the young and innocent minds who will lead Papua New Guinea tomorrow. Each one of us has a duty to protect the fundamental rights of our children.