Protecting children is protecting PNG


‘LET’S give voice to our children’ is what the Children’s Inaugural Forum wants to achieve when it starts today in Port Moresby.
This forum will be attended by the children who are represented by year 11 head boy and girl from top performing schools in each province.
It is the first one and by law this forum must be held.
The Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 calls for a biannual forum for our children to give them a voice.
All issues affecting us also affect our children but many times our children are unable to speak, so this forum makes them part of the discussions; they may suggest some of the best solutions to issues affecting our country.
The children will discuss school fights, drugs and alcohol,  social media and, of course, their understanding of gender-based domestic violence.
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.
To celebrate this year’s Universal Children’s Day, United Nations children’s fund Unicef has invited children from around the world to take over key roles in the media, politics, business, sport and entertainment to voice their support for millions of their peers who are unschooled, unprotected and uprooted.
United Nations Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 and is celebrated on
Nov 20 each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
Nov 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN general assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
It is also the date in 1989 when the UN general assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals as well as young people and the children themselves can play an important part in making Universal Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations.
Everywhere, adults often speak for children, but it may be better if they do it themselves, especially if they reveal some important information that the authorities need to take into account and address.
All children have the right to protection. They have the right to survive, to be safe, to belong, to be heard, to receive adequate care and to grow up in a protective environment.
A family is the first line of protection for children. Parents or other caregivers are responsible for building a protective and loving home environment.
Schools and communities are responsible for building a safe and child-friendly environment outside the child’s home.
In the family, school and community, children should be fully protected so they can survive, grow, learn and develop to their fullest potential.
Millions of children are not fully protected. Many of them deal with violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation, exclusion and/or discrimination every day. Such violations limit their chances of surviving, growing, developing and pursuing their dreams.
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.
Girls and boys should be encouraged and supported to speak up for children’s rights and to take an active role in their own protection against abuse, violence, exploitation and discrimination.
No one said this would be easy but we need to protect our children now to secure the future of Papua New Guinea.
After all, our children are our vision 2050.