UNICEF-aided system to curb child abuse announced Guyana Chronicle
April 1, 2004

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MINISTRY of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, in collaboration with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), will be working on a comprehensive child protection system to be effected this year.

Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer Ann Greene said families, the core component of society, will be more involved in the plan announced in the wake of increased abuse of children.

"We are seeing dreadful incidents of child maltreatment, mistreatment, molestation and sexual exploitation, "she said, when making the announcement Tuesday.

Greene, who said boys are also among the victims of forced sexual activity, pointed out that molestation of children was formerly covertly done and not reported but there are now more reports which might not, necessarily, represent an increase.

She said one of the primary focuses of the Ministry will be to stop the practice and devise interventions to prevent family breakdowns.

Greene said there is a need to sensitise communities to their responsibility to speak out on such matters.

But all the work cannot be left to the Ministry.

"... all must be involved or all will be consumed. Child abuse is a societal problem and, therefore, it is a matter of what we will do to change the situation and not what they will do," Greene declared.

She reiterated that speaking out must be part of the solution and said programmes will be designed to educate and train parents for their involvement.

Greene agreed that women, especially single parents, have to be empowered to deal with such issues and it would become necessary for parents to automatically put measures in place for the protection of their children from threatening environments.

She acknowledged it is a big job for the Ministry as it is the leading social work agency in the country.

Guyana has ratified and is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 34 of which said the target group should be protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child also states that they must be protected from violence, abuse, sexual exploitation and becoming victims of HIV/AIDS. The Ministry feels the covenant has created, as well, an openness for dealing with those issues.