Attitude change towards child abuse needed


Media Ministry Secretary Charitha Herath receives the first copy of the Hand book for Journalist on ‘Child Abuse’ while Member of the Director Board of the NCPA and Specialist Judicial Medical Officer, Dr. P. B. Dassanayake and NCPA Media Assistant, Nilmini Wijeratne look on(pic By Chandrasiri Weerasinghe)

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) yesterday called for an attitude change in the public and parents towards child abuse.

Addressing the media on ‘Realising the Rights of the Child - A Collaborative Approach Discussion Forum’ member of the Director Board of the NCPA and Specialist Judicial Medical Officer, Dr. P. B. Dassanayake said that the media had a responsibility to change the attitude of parents and elders to prevent the abuse of children.

Dr. Dassanayake said that awareness should be strengthened on the child’s position in the family. If child abuse was to be reduced she/he should be given priority within the family. In most cases, parents act as administrators so that children were not able to express themselves to them. He said that this also led to a crisis where a majority of children were abused by a person they trusted.

The parents and adults should also be made aware of the legal framework which could protect their children.

The concerned JMO said that even children should be made aware of the possible threats they could face at the hands of a known or friendly adult. They should be educated on whom they should inform if such a traumatic incident should occur. They could always approach a friend, a teacher, the gramasevaka niladari or call the NCPA hotline 1929. It should be someone of authority who could guide them, he said.

A sexually abused child should not be forced to undergo mental trauma in addition to the physical trauma, he said adding that the media had the responsibility of not only making the people aware of such crimes but that they also had the responsibility of protecting the privacy of the child who faced the situation.

Secretary Ministry of Media and Communication, Charitha Herath opined that the country should work towards ensuring the safety of children. "We should not forget the country’s children and the responsibility we have towards them with the development taking place," he said. Therefore the media should always take the child’s side.

He said that the media should be able to build up an ethical interaction which does not expose children to further abuse.

Additional Solicitor General, B. P. Aluvihare, explained that there was no cause to panic when there were increases in the number of crimes against women and children. This is because of certain amendments being brought in to existing rules and regulations over the years. Therefore, some incidents which were not seen as criminal offences earlier, were viewed from a different perspective. However, special care and attention should be paid when reporting cases of child abuse.

Citing examples of child abuse and detrimental information regarding a school where the place and those involved had been identified, Aluvihare warned that reporting and sensationalising incidents of child abuse in such a manner was a punishable offence.

The NCPA also launched its Hand Book for Journalists on Reporting on Child Abuse during the Forum.

The Programme was organised in collaboration with Save the Children International.

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