Ghana Against Child Abuse marks 1st anniversary

The first anniversary of the Ghana Against Child Abuse (GACA) Campaign was held in Accra yesterday on the theme “Promoting Alternatives to Violence Against Children.”

The initiative which was launched last year formed part of efforts to implement the Child and Family Welfare Policy by government to ensure social and behavioural change for child protection.

The anniversary was celebrated amidst drama to educate school children present on how to report cases of abuse to parents and authorities.

The Second Lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia, addressing the gathering said despite the progress of the GACA, children continue to suffer violence on daily basis adding that “indeed through social media, it is now very common to get reports of children beaten, killed or maimed in the guise of correction.

“It is also more common-placed to get reports of online bullying and how social media generally is having a negative impact on the lives of children and young people in our country”, she added.

The Second Lady said there was an assumed worrying trend of children, who were being abused sexually.

According to her, “in April last year, as many as eight teachers were found guilty of inappropriate sexual advances on students in Senior High Schools (SHS).

“This is one out of many of such cases and I am particularly concerned about such reports as children are being abused by adults entrusted with their care,” she emphasised.

Mrs Bawumia also launched a resource pack dubbed “The Safe Schools Resource Pack” by the Ghana Education Service (GES) in collaboration with UNICEF and the government of Canada.

The programme she said would address corporal punishment, bullying and sexual harassment and transform schools into safe and inclusive learning environment.

In her view, the programme would promote enrolment and retention, improve high student academic achievements as well as respond to violence in schools.

The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Cynthia Maamle Morrison, in her submission noted that cultural and social norms had high influence in shaping a person’s behaviour which included the use of violence.

“One fundamental fact that promotes and encourages child abuse and other violence against children is our cultural and social norms that we hold on to as a people,” she said.

The Minister said child abuse could end by enforcing Policy and Legislative frameworks to ensure that minimum standards were adhered to.

She said improving services and infrastructure for children and strengthening institutions, were key to ending child abuse, adding that behaviour of both duty bearers and claim holders would help ensure compliance to provisions of laws, policies and best practices.

Madam Morrison added that her ministry was currently undertaking important exercises to review all child-related laws in the country for effective child protection.

“We are hoping that, with a change of behaviour, all socio-cultural norms that enforce the abuse of children in our society will be eliminated.”

The Minister of Education (MOE), Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh in a speech read on his behalf said the ministry was making efforts to incorporate a zero tolerance for school-based violence into its sector policies and guidelines.

He added that the MOE was committed to ensuring that all schools were safely protected and had inclusive learning environment for children.

By ALLIA NOSHIE

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