Suva, Fiji – Save the Children Fiji (SC Fiji) says that it is unacceptable that children in Fiji continue to experience violation of their fundamental rights. Reports particularly on child abuse and neglect top the number of cases of child rights violations in the country.
According to the Child Services Unit, as at 14th January 2022 a total of 1,373 cases were reported in 2021. This has decreased compared to 2020 which had 1,719 cases reported. The months in which the COVID restrictions were in place presented low reporting. 51 percent of the cases were reported via the Child Helpline followed by welfare officers, medical professionals, police officers and teachers.
From January to February 2022, SC Fiji also received 4 reports all ranging from neglect, physical, verbal abuse which has also been reported to the Child Services Unit. SC Fiji continues to address this issue by working with partners to strengthen the child protection systems at the community level and educate communities about the importance of preventing such crimes and reporting any concerns with children to relevant authorities. Children are also encouraged to use the child help line toll free line 1325 to share their concerns.
Save the Children Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Shairana Ali, said that every child in Fiji deserves to have their rights promoted and protected at all times. Children are precious and must be nurtured to realize their full potential in life. Unfortunately, in more recent weeks, we have found children being publicly abused and in school settings. The recent alleged cases of children assaulted by citizens in public settings is shameful and must not be tolerated by anyone in society. Equally concerning is the behavior of duty bearers such as teachers who have been found to inflict harm on children in their care. Save the Children Fiji is calling on authorities including the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (MEHA) to work swiftly with the police and ensure that such perpetrators face the full brunt of our laws. Corporal punishment and sexual abuse within school settings aren’t minor offences and all stakeholders have the responsibility to ensure children’s safety in schools. All children irrespective of their background, must be protected from all forms of harm and abuse.
Physical punishment and humiliation can leave lasting scars on children and impact on their development into adulthood. Punishment can also lead to children acting violently and carrying the violence through to the next generation of children.
SC Fiji is currently working on a range of child safeguarding trainings in various communities around Fiji to educate communities on child protection, establish child protection committees and strengthen child rights and protection monitoring and reporting mechanisms to address issues of neglect and promote a collective action to end violence against children.
To know more about SC Fiji’s child safeguarding and protection programs, please call 3313178 or visit www.savethechildren.org.fj