The children under 18 year constitute more than 50% of our population. By virtue of their immaturity, they are the most vulnerable population of our society. They are prone to face more hazards in our age of modernism than in any age of the history. They are exposed to many types of exploitations and abuses from various corners of society. It is the duty of parents, guardians, pediatricians, teachers, lawyers, journalists, media, NGO’s, social worker and government to safeguard the children against all these odds.
The Child Rights and Abuse Committee of Pakistan Pediatric Association is striving for the protection of children from all types of abuse and their rights. There are many other government and non government organizations that, too, are working to safeguard the rights of children. Few of them are as follows:
All these organizations are working independently and there is no coordination in their activities to safeguard the rights of children and to protect them from the abuse. The result is that we do not see any significant affect of all these efforts in our society. The simple rule is that ‘one and one joined together make 11’. So the dire need of hour is to integrate the activities of all these organizations. We can defeat the evil of child abuse only when we hit it from all sides
The other important and known fact that we need to keep in mind is that there are few inherent limitations of the government organizations. There are many steps involved at each step that leads to an unnecessary delay in the delivery of goods. There are many formalities, to make the matters transparent, but it hinders the smooth sailing of plans. They, usually, lack a strong commitment to the goals as they keep transferring from one project to another. On the other hand Non Government Organizations, usually, have a Goal and Commitment. By virtue of their lesser formalities and steps involved in delivery, they are better equipped to take part in the developmental issues in a better way.
The Schools and the Hospitals are the best place for interventions that will empower the children, teachers and doctors so that the children are better protected.
To integrate all the organizations it is required that a Coordinator be appointed who can coordinate the activities of all the relevant quarters and bring out a joint effort. The person should be a committed Child Rights Activist or a Pediatrician who understands the technical issues involved in the Child Abuse and their Rights. He should be made responsible to take record of the activities of all the concerned organizations and suggest ways to further enhance the proposals. He should also facilitate all the matters regarding different departments and communicate with all the concerned people about the developments and progress taking place in various organizations about Child rights and Abuse.
The coordinator may form a “core group” including a member from all organizations, governmental or non governmental, and so keep in touch with all of them. They can sit together bimonthly and discuss the progress and next plans.
He should involve the schools for provisions of clean environment, accident free buildings, hygienic canteens, clean toilets, healthy class rooms and good play grounds. He should also ensure the schools are free from Physical and Emotional Abuse. The training workshops for teachers and students can be arranged for such purposes.
He should be responsible for arranging Training workshops for the teachers so that they can recognize the various forms of the Child Abuse and can treat or report the matters to the concerned officials.
He can help to form the “School health Committees” that will take care of all the matters regarding the Child Health, Protection and Abuse.
He can also try to involve the health institutions, doctors, nurses and paramedics in the detection of Child Abuse and reporting such matters. The necessary skill development in the health care providers should also be his responsibility.
Mobilizing all the society including parents, guardians, pediatricians, teachers, lawyers, journalists, media, NGO’s, social worker and government for the sake of children rights and to save them from abuse.
There are four major types of child abuse-Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Neglect. The other areas of Abuse are Child labor, not sending the children to Schools, Commercial sexual exploitation of children, Child trafficking, Street children, Substance Abuse, Children with disabilities, Child marriages and Child beggars. All these areas need to be addressed by the coordinator in order to provide a concept of “Child Friendly City”.
The following steps can help to make Multan as the “Child Friendly City”.