OPINION: Let Us Take Proper Care Of Our Children; It’s Our Responsibility

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatilki’s My Say programme on FBC TV. It is great news that the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has started a
23 Nov 2015 11:06
OPINION: Let Us Take Proper Care Of Our  Children; It’s Our Responsibility
Our children, our future.

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatilki’s My Say programme on FBC TV.

It is great news that the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has started a programme to crack down on children selling food items, particularly at night.

Together with this campaign, Government and its agencies must also target child abuse and neglect.

Allowing children to sell food at night can also be described as exploitation.

Eight cases in Suva were highlighted by the Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Josefa Koroivueta during the official opening of PCAN (Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) awareness programme in Suva this week.

He says emphatically that the ministry doesn’t tolerate the use of children in any form child labour or any illegal activities for that matter.

The ministry is greatly concerned about this and as such collaborative network has been formed between Fiji Police, Ministry of Labour, Suva City Council and Ministry of Children that has conducted the operations in Suva this week.

There were eight children who were identified selling food items late in the evenings in some of the busy shopping centres around Suva. They were on their own.

This is simply unacceptable. No children should be left unsupervised both in the public place or at home. They must be with adults all the time because of their innocence and vulnerability.

The risks are high they could become easy targets for predators. Until they turn 18, when they legally become independent, children remain the responsibility of their parents. That’s the clarification from the Government.

In some countries like New Zealand, 14 is the minimum age when a child can stay at home alone without adult supervision. But it is the threat that comes from outside of the home that is the concern here.

The recent case of a seven-year-old girl who was allegedly picked up from her bed, carried outside and raped in the bushes in Lautoka is shocking.

Some questions spring to mind. Was the house firmly secured to keep away intruders? Was anyone else in the house at the time?

It seems inconceivable that the suspect had easy access and exit without anyone hearing him. But these are no doubt part of police investigations. It raises another question about parental supervision. Recently we have had toddlers drown and other tragedies happen because of alleged parental negligence.

The point must be made that parents are responsible for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of their children.

On child labour, this is confined to paid labour. In a rural setting, a farming family usually engages all members of the family in working on the farm including children.

It’s a lifestyle that allows the children to gain knowledge and learn the skills in farm work. The use of children is done with discretion and common sense recognising safety as paramount.

The physical, mental and sexual abuse of children in the home is a major concern. The cases that come before the courts indicate we could be sitting on a time bomb.

They are the ones that are reported. We know that there are unreported cases too because cultural sensitivities discourage them being reported. In some of our local cultures, it is culturally offensive and distasteful to talk about these issues openly. Attempts are made to resolve the cases in the traditional way.

Fiji is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

So we should do everything in our power to promote and protect the rights of our children. They are not only guaranteed by our constitution, they are highly recognised by the holy writ.

In Matthew in the Holy Bible (Kings James version), Jesus Christ says in chapter 18 verses 6 and 7: “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receith me

“And whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a milestone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Jesus Christ treated children as special but those who hurt them will get their just rewards.

It is our children’s rights to be loved, cared for, fed, sheltered, clothed, educated and nurtured.

When we fail to provide these, we fail in our God-given duty as parents and guardians.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj


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