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Call for national dialogue on protecting children

Wednesday, May 11 2016

ALTHOUGH twoyear- old Jacob Antonio Bastaldo’s death was ruled an accident, the Children’s Authority (CA) has called for national discussion on changing attitudes towards children and child abuse.

The forensic result stated that the toddler died from an accidental fall last Saturday.

In a statement yesterday, the CA said in its Nine Months and Counting Statistical Bulletin, physical abuse represented the third leading category of abuse reported. Although Section 4 of the Children’s Act 2012 permits only parents (and guardians) to apply “reasonable” corporal punishment to children while forbidding its use by anyone else, the reports of physical abuse against children were often far outside anything permissible.

The CA said during the nine-month period of May 18, 2015 to February 17, 2016, the Authority received about 100 reports of children between the ages of 0-3 years who were physically abused. As a result, the CA was again appealing to parents and guardians to find more creative and effective ways of disciplining children.

“The Authority recognises that some parents and guardians are under extreme stress, have little support and may resort to corporal punishment. However, research shows that corporal punishment teaches children that hitting is an acceptable response to anger. It is therefore necessary to teach our children how to manage anger without violence,” the CA said.

Meanwhile, the CA has intervened in the case of a 14-year-old girl who recently gave birth at hospital. When the CA received the report, its emergency response team was dispatched to visit the child and her baby.

The CA has been providing the necessary psychosocial support and counselling to the teen mother. Respecting the sensitivity and confidentiality required in dealing with the matter, the Authority can only advise that both mother and baby are healthy and in a safe place.

Again, the CA is calling on parents and guardians to be vigilant with their children, due to the increasing number of child sexual abuse reports.

To date, of the 1,000 cases of sexual abuse reported to the Authority, 142 children were in sexual relationships with adult men, with 61 of them becoming pregnant or have had a child.

The CA is of the view that this trend must not be allowed to continue and discussions must begin to change the public’s attitude towards children, their rights and the need to end child abuse.



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