Save the Children Fiji is concerned with the increasing number of child abuse and neglect cases and children in the country who are at high risk of exploitation, abuse, and harassment both online and in the real world.
Most recently, a video of two minors went viral on Facebook that showed young girls in very vulnerable situations. It is alleged that they walked back from school and were lost for hours because the school bus failed to transport them back home as their bus fare card did not have enough funds. Children have the right to safety and security at all times. Save the Children Fiji reiterates that the onus is on parents, teachers and transport providers, and the community to always act in the best interest of children and ensure that children are protected at all times.
In another alarming recent incident, a 6-year-old child lost her life unfortunately when she became trapped in a house fire. Save the Children Fiji urges parents and caregivers, to continue to monitor, protect and be more responsive to their children’s safety needs. We call on parents to identify safety hazards within their homes and educate their children on these hazards and practice fire safety drills. Our hope is that with education, children will have the knowledge to recognize the dangers and act quickly if and when required.
Save the Children Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Shairana Ali said, “Children in homes, schools and in general must be closely supervised and protected. Parents must check that the basic necessities of their children are met before they go to school; whether it’s their bus cards, school lunches, proper uniform attire, water bottles, etc., this will avoid placing children in such predicaments.
Transport providers should never refuse a child from boarding the buses, instead, they should practice compassionate approaches. Teachers also have a role to play in these crucial circumstances and can do a quick check daily with each child to ensure that they have their bus cards. It is important that duty bearers educate children about safety and being able to recognize when they may be in danger as well as being able to act quickly so that they are not harmed.’’
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) statistics on sexual offences in the month of June 2022 stated that there were 18 cases of sexual abuse and 10 out of the 18 cases were children below 18 years of age. The Child Services Unit (CSU) has reported 3,237 child abuse cases over last two years. Such heinous crimes against children and women should not be tolerated and the perpetrators must swiftly face the full brunt of the law.
Save the Children Fiji would like to advise the general public, specifically parents and duty bearers to be vigilant about their children’s safety.
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