NEWS

Parents Need To Step Up For Their Children During This COVID-19 Crisis

“Before asking what non-governmental organisations or governments are doing, the question we should ask ourselves is why we aren’t raising the level of understanding of our children.
06 May 2020 11:51
Parents Need To Step Up For Their Children During This COVID-19 Crisis
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa during a press conference on May 5, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation,  Mereseini Vuniwaqa, has called on parents to step up.

This follows an alarming increase in calls received on the women and children’s domestic violence helpline services set up during the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking during a joint press conference with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and Medical Services Pacific yesterday, Ms Vuniwaqa said it was important for parents to understand that helplines were only an intervention while the primary responsibility theirs.

“A lot of the issues we have recorded on our child helpline are children who are away from schools saying that they were missing their friends,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.

“These are the things we as parents should be able to provide, friendship and just a person to talk to,” she said.

“That’s parental responsibility first and foremost.”

She said it was very important to draw on parental responsibilities to do the work.

“When these responsibilities are lacking, we begin to see these issues take their toll.

“Juveniles are getting arrested, these shouldn’t be happening when parents and adults know and understand the rules.

“Before asking what non-governmental organisations or governments are doing, the question we should ask ourselves is why we aren’t raising the level of understanding of our children.

“As adults, this COVID-19 period is a totally new thing to us and we can only imagine the confusion our children would be going through when new things such as this come up.”

She added: “Instead of being thankful for the lifting of curfew from 8pm to 10pm with your buddies drinking grog, spend it with your children, talk about COVID, restrictions that are in place.

“Schools are handing off materials for learning, are we supervising them, are we helping them out.

“Parental responsibility is critical at this critical time.”

Helpline

Medical Services Pacific Country Director Ashna Shaleen revealed that 67 per cent of callers on child helpline 1325 were on child protection issues.

She said callers reporting on physical and sexual violence was close to 54 per cent while emotional abuse reports were on 28 per cent.

She said the youngest caller to date on the helpline was a nine-year-old child.

“Callers are not calling only for child protection issues, children are even reporting on being bored and if schools were going to be open soon,” Ms Shaleen said.

She added counsellors were providing 24 hour services responding to calls received while other queries were directed to the relevant agencies.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

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