Project on to protect children from violence
Stabroek News
December 31, 2003

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A project to ensure that Guyana's children are protected from the day-to-day effects of violence has been launched by the Social Services Ministry and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

According to a Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security press release, the three-phase project began in October and is expected to provide children and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to change attitudes to violence.

A growing number of child sex abuse and child- neglect cases has come to the fore in recent years.

The first phase of the project, which is to be completed in August 2004, is an assessment of the causes and impact of violence on children and adolescents from three to eighteen years old.

Roughly 51 communities and more than 4,000 children are to be part of this research which will involve schoolchildren, street children and institutionalised children. This phase is being executed with the help of the Red Thread Women's Develop-ment Programme.

Phase Two involves the development of a National Child Protection Monitoring System within the ministry to identify gaps and improve the child-protection process. UNICEF and the UN Economic Commission for Caribbean and Latin Amer-ican Countries (ECLAC) are to provide technical and financial support.

In the third phase, peace education and non-violent conflict-resolution interventions will be promoted in five pilot communities in Region 4.

An advisory board, which includes membership from government ministries and agencies such as the police force and the National Commission on Disability, will monitor the work of the project.

So far, two advisory board meetings have been held and a code of ethics and ethical procedures finalised.

With permission from the Ministry of Education and data from the Bureau of Statistics, 51 communities and 102 schools were identified for research and i6 schools have already been visited and raw data collected. Furthermore, 12 young persons and three professional counsellors were trained.

The project is managed by Violet Speek-Warnery of UNICEF and Ann Greene, Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer.