Posted on

Many suffer in silence


Fri, Nov 18. 2011

World Day of Prayer and Action message

Today’s world is one filled with diverse peoples striving to cope with the demanding economic climate. While great emphasis is placed on rescuing countries straining under an ever increasing burden of debt, children all over the world suffer quietly in an atmosphere of violence and abuse.{{more}} Every year millions of children around the world become victims of untold violence. Many suffer in silence.

The Caribbean as a region of diverse cultures, religions and races gives rise to specific challenges. Many children in the region live in single parent homes, where the mother is usually the head of the household and the influence of the father is limited (for various reasons) or non-existent, putting a heavy burden on the single parent. In other cases, children live with relatives, friends, neighbours or older siblings, as unemployment has forced some parents to migrate to North America to find work. In some instances, these individuals are not able to care for or are disinterested in caring for their young ones, and it has resulted in some children being neglected or abused in the home. The problem of abuse is further aggravated by the strong culture of silence around the issue as often parents, as well as professionals, are reluctant to report it. This is driven by the fear of embarrassment, the time consuming nature of investigations and the threat of violence from alleged abusers. Unfortunately, existing child protection legislation is often scattered through several pieces of legislation – Domestic Violence Acts, Sexual Offences Acts – and there is need for legislation specifically designed for the care and protection of children who are abused or at risk of being abused.

Children living in both single parent as well as nuclear family households are subject to corporal punishment as the main form of discipline, as it is considered as a cultural norm in the region. Corporal punishment is often times a “knee jerk” reaction to an indiscretion or a response arising out of anger or frustration.

As a region, we, therefore, need to take an introspective look and employ all our resources towards creating a healthier environment for our youth to live and function in.

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is an initiative by the Arigatou Foundation in partnership with UNICEF which began in 2008. This initiative envisions a world in which all children have a joyous childhood: where they can play, learn and grow, where they are loved and cared for, where their health and safety are protected and where their gender is not a liability; a world in which their human rights are protected and fulfilled

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children seeks to bring together Faith-based organisations, civil society and governmental organisations to pray and take action for the well-being of children on Universal Children’s Day, which is celebrated on November 20 every year. Universal Children’s Day, established by the United Nations in 1954, also commemorates the 1989 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child bestows on children the right to:

  • Freedom from violence, abuse, hazardous employment, exploitation, abduction or sale
  • Adequate nutrition
  • Free compulsory primary education
  • Adequate health care
  • Equal treatment regardless of gender, race, or cultural background
  • The right to express opinions and freedom of thought in matters affecting them
  • Safe exposure/access to leisure, play, culture, and art.

As citizens of the Caribbean territories, who have signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we are bound to uphold its principles to the letter and in spirit.

As parents, it is our responsibility to love, protect, pray for and empower those who have been laced under our care.

UNICEF, therefore, calls on all Faith-based organisations governmental organisations and civil society to join together in PRAYER and ACTION on Universal Children’s Day.

Together we can transform our world and End Violence against Children.