Child abuse, an issue that needs attention - Part I
THE popular saying "children are the leaders of tomorrow" is well known the world over. A child that has been trained properly by its parents it will become a productive, useful, purposeful and progressive citizen. As we face an increasing lawlessness in our country, we begin to wonder whether, as parents, we have failed in our duties.
A lot has been said, written and heard over the media about law and order problems in the country, why they happened and offered useful suggestions as to what we should do to reduce the problems so that we all live together in peace and harmony in this, our beautiful country.
I am most thankful to once again receive some useful suggestions, this time from Peter Solo Kinjap, a freelance writer at UPNG on child abuse. Below is what he said.
"Most of the critical challenges we encounter have their origins in family influences and childhood experiences. While we often judge the most critical problems of our nation to be primarily of a political and economic nature, the health of the family and the well being of children in the family are even more fundamental. Child abuse is an issue that needs attention. Even though it is a widely prevalent issue, family, friends, teachers and health professionals overlooked it. One in every five families in PNG does not realise that they affecting their children with abusive treatment.
"A situation analysis of children and women in PNG, carried out in 1987 suggested that while spouse abuse was widespread, children are seldom the victims of assault by parents, as physical chastisement is generally not resorted to as a form of punishment. It added that their fathers might beat adolescence boys and girls for socially non-acceptable behaviour, but societies do not approve of children being hit. However, it can also be urged that in most PNG societies, smacking a child in immediate response to disobedience and misbehaviour, or as a means or warning a child of consequential danger, is regarded as an acceptable part of a child rearing.
"Regardless of the range of culturally acceptable child rearing practices in PNG, it is generally the case within the extended family network in village communities that a child's interests are safeguarded by multiple care givers, who serve to quickly defuse situations in which a parent reacts violently to a child's behaviour. Situations in which familial relationships give rise to patterns of sexual abuse are similarly prevented by the cohesiveness of extended family groups and customary social rules and taboos that define roles and relations.
"Child abuse is described as cruelty or maltreatment to children. It is the act that is perceived as the wilful and unjustifiable infliction of pain and suffering on children. The pain and suffering may come in the form of physical, emotional and mental phenomena. The common forms of child abuse include physical violence or use of physical force on the child or any form of action that leaves the child in fear is considered as abusing the child. Any rough, unpleasant, forceful or violent physical action is regarded as abuse. Smacking or spanking the child is also seen to be literally abusing the child. Statistical evidence proves that about half the cases of child abuse involve physical violence.
"A child deserves his/her basic human rights to be respected at every circumstance and environment in which he/she is part of or new to. At school, the child need not to be insulted, smacked, and offended at any means by both teachers and fellow students. Failure to furnish proper shelter is a problem and the responsibility of providing housing and accommodation is left to the elders including the parents. If at any circumstances the child is not properly housed as others or supposed to be, then this is seen to be abusing the child who has every right to receive a proper shelter and that has to met by parents in one way or the other.
"In PNG there are cases where a child is chased out of the house as a punishment if he/she has not fully met the requirements of the parents' expectations in their roles. I have seen parents chasing away their sons and daughters out of the house as to punish them for not doing the dishes, laundry, looking after younger ones in the house, or other household duties.
"Lack of proper nourishment is child abuse. The parents have the responsibility to feed the child with the balanced meals. In the countries where there is food shortage, children suffer as a result and this problem was the focus of sometime by Unicef. However this is still a problem today.
"In the developing countries where more than a half of the total population lives a simple village-life style, the recommended balanced diet is a problem to both parents and children. The lack of necessities in food intake and untimely food supplies to children is seen as abusing a child. No proper medical treatment is a problem too and so the children are to be treated as fairly and equally as the elite and there is no reason why a child is disadvantaged in receiving medical treatments.
"Medical authorities as well as parents and relatives of the child are to give the required medical attention. Child abuse in terms of no proper medical treatment is one of the increasing events in the developing countries. Lack of proper immunisation is also seen to be abusing the child. Poor sanitation is one of the major causes of diseases among children.
"Insufficient emotional support is a problem from other forms of child abuse, this is of the severely disadvantaged kind that the child in his/her lifetime experiences. Lack of emotional support to extremes is such that drives the child to even commit suicide. Psychological trauma a child lives through is the worst of worse abusive treatments and that can cost life at extreme extends.
"Incest is relatives or family members having sexual relationship. The elders in the family usually, for this matter, knowingly have sexual relationship with especially the younger ones in the family. In most cases, the elders in the family intimidate the younger ones not to report anything that happened, and if they do, they are threatened that they will be severely punished.
"On other occasions where younger ones have the chance to see two of the elders in the family involve in the act of incest may also be threatened not to say anything of what they see. The act of incest is indeed abusing the child. In some parts of the world, parents, relatives and elders in the family practice sexual molestation with children.
"Masturbation with child is also considered highly to be an ill treatment as it associates with emotional and psychological impacts. It can be between a child versus child or child versus an adult".
The above is the first part of this sad story that is among the causes of family breakdowns in our beautiful country. Make sure you get a copy next Thursday for the last article of this serious community issue.