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Urgent Call to Action for Child Safety During School Holidays

12th December, 2023.

Save the Children Fiji (SCF) is making an urgent call on all members of society to collectively
prioritize the safety of children especially as families prepare for the festive season.

Recent incidents underscore the challenges we face in protecting our children. According to the latest statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), alarming cases involving abduction, rape, and sexual assault have been reported. A 19-year-old woman faces charges for the abduction, rape, and sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl, while a 19-yearold man is charged with the rape of his 14-year-old nephew. Additionally, a 35-year-old man has been charged with the rape of his 15-year-old niece, and a 22-year-old man faces charges for the rape of his 12-year old niece. These horrific and shameful incidents highlight the urgency of collective efforts to safeguard the well-being of every child.

In light of these concerns, Save the Children Fiji Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shairana Ali, emphasizes the importance of parental and guardian responsibility. “Every year and especially during the school holidays, children get into accidents and sustain injuries, and quite unfortunately, some children have even lost their lives. It is imperative on parents and guardians to supervise and monitor their children, even when they are within the vicinity of their own homes”.

Ms Ali calls on parents, guardians, and those in caregiving roles to take their roles seriously and make a commitment to themselves and their families that children in their care will be safe and protected and not come in harm’s way. Unsupervised loitering can expose children to potential dangers and parents should be more vigilant about their whereabouts during the holidays.

As adverse weather conditions become more prevalent, it is essential to educate children about the dangers associated with such events. “There are a range of hazards, especially as we are in the cyclone season, which coincides with the festive season, and we reiterate to all the duty bearers to look out for risks that may be a source of harm to children’s well-being and mitigate those risks”, says Save the Children Fiji CEO.

In addition to external factors, SCF asks all families to remain attentive to hazards within the home and community. Parents are urged to reinforce safety measures to protect children from accidents, especially house fires. The holiday period can exacerbate neglect and abuse concerns and it is everyone’s responsibility to be alert to signs of distress or mistreatment and report any suspicions promptly to the appropriate authorities.

SCF is appealing to nightclub owners to exercise utmost diligence in verifying the age of patrons. Entertaining or permitting minors in establishments that serve alcohol can have severe consequences. Communities need to work collaboratively to prevent underage access to venues where drugs and alcohol are present. With the festive season approaching, there is a heightened risk of exposure to drugs and alcohol. Parents and guardians are encouraged to
engage in open and honest conversations with children about the dangers associated with substance abuse.

By addressing these key points and fostering a sense of community responsibility, SCF hopes that families can collectively create an environment that ensures the safety and well-being of children during the school holiday period.

For media inquiries, please contact Vika.Ramara@savethechildren.org or Coletta.King@savethechildren.org

For more information visit our website www.savethechildren.org or contact us on +(679)3313178 or Info.Fiji@savethechildren.org