PAPUA New Guinea has the highest number of child abuse cases of the estimated 2.8 million children facing violence in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, according to Unseen and Unsafe report.
Save the Children acting head of policy and author of Unseen and Unsafe, Kavitha Suthanthiraraj, says the report reveals the child protection crisis in the Pacific and Timor-Leste and the devastating lifelong impact this has on children.
“Violence against children has been ignore and there has been inadequate levels of funds and policy measures to address this epidemic,” she said.
“Children who face violence and abuse often suffer from serious physical injuries, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, mental trauma and even death.”
These issues have now come to the attention of the Australian government to work closely with Pacific governments on aid expenditures to end violence against children.
A research, conducted by Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International and ChildFund, demonstrated that in PNG:
- More than half of all sexual violence cases referred to medical clinics in Port Moresby and Tari were against children;
- 27 per cent of parents or carers reported beating their children over and over as hard as they could;
- physical violence against adolescent girls is between 30 per cent and 25 per cent; and,
- sexual violence against adolescent girls is between 15 per cent and 10 per cent;
Save the Children’s Fund baseline data from its “Safe Communities, Safe Children” programme in PNG indicated that, generally, boys were more likely to experience physical punishment than girls. This may be due to local beliefs that boys must be raised to be “tough”.
Physically, children are also more susceptible to injury than adults as their bodies are still developing. Violence can lead to stunted brain development which affects their concentration, language development and ability to read and write.
“If we want future generation of children to grow and prosper, then a determined and meaningful investment in their wellbeing and safety is critical. Otherwise, yet another generation in the Pacific and Timor-Leste will face the ongoing human and economic costs wrought by violence perpetrated against children.”