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Sultanate sees rise in child abuse cases (2020)

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

BY Azlan Othman

Statistics from the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) showed a 23 per cent increase in child abuse cases in 2014 and 2018, while the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) medical-social work division received around 300 cases for various child safe-guarding concerns.

This was revealed by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, at the launching of the Introductory Course on Safeguarding Children for Health Professionals at the MoH’s Al-‘Afiah Hall on Tuesday.

He added, “This would include an average of 30 teenage pregnancies and between 40 to 50 cases of child abuse every year. And yet, these cases are just the tip of the child maltreatment iceberg. A lot more children are suffering, because their plight went undetected and unreported.

“Some children are born into extremely challenging circumstances where their parents are unable to provide the best care and protection; and it is the duty of others and the government agencies, as well as the wider community, to support and safeguard them.

“It is not enough for us to just tell parents to nurture and look after their children well. We must also be able to pick up on earliest signs when they are unable to do the job of parenting well, to support them when they can’t, and to take them to account and justice when they are actually harming the children.

“It is also not enough to tell people in general not to abuse or mistreat children, because some definitely will, for their own reasons and possibly because of their own past experiences, Then again, it is the duty of the rest of us to create and strengthen the laws, policies and mechanisms by which children can be protected from such abusers and predators.”

The minister said, “Our ultimate goal is to stop violence before it begins, and prevention requires an understanding of the factors that influence violence. The four-level Ecological Model for Violence Prevention which is used by the World Health Organization (WHO) helps us to understand this and explains how violence is in fact the outcome of the interaction of many factors on the individual, relational, community and societal levels.”

Jointly organised by the MoH’s Child Development Centre and the Al-Majaz Training Services, the two-day course is attended by 30 health professionals and 21 observers.

The course is led by International Consultant on Child Rights (Consultant to the UNICEF Country Office) Dr Henry Ruiz.

Dr Henry Ruiz was also the speaker at the opening ceremony’s plenary session titled, ‘Strengthening the Interdisciplinary Approach Towards Effective Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect in Brunei Darussalam’.

This course allows the participants to appreciate the importance of child protection; understand their obligations and responsibilities on safeguarding children; recognising warning signs and manifestations of child abuse; and learning how to provide appropriate responses such as accurate recording and mandatory reporting.

The course will discuss child safeguarding within the context of child protection provisions in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Child Protection Framework and Strategy. It also provides a general picture of child protection in different settings; the importance of a multi-disciplinary case management of child victims of abuse and violence; and the role of health professionals in this case management.

Towards the end of the training, there will be an initial discussion on developing a ‘Child Safeguarding Policy’ for health personnel and other non-health staff in health facilities.

By the end of the course, the participants are expected to appreciate the importance of child safeguarding within the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam (OICCRCI).

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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