Today is recognized as Universal Children’s Day. An annual event observed “to improve child welfare worldwide, promote and celebrate children’s rights and promote togetherness and awareness amongst all children.” I urge you to join in the #worldchildrensday event on social media, as I intend to do likewise. Obviously, the need to observe such a day is much bigger than merely participating in a hashtag event. At this moment, if anything special is being done here in Dominica to observe the day let us contribute in whatever way possible. I believe creating the awareness of the need to protect, preserve and defend children and their rights should be a priority throughout the world, no less in the nature isle.
Today in our island, many children are still disadvantaged, the rights of a sizable number are still being violated, some are being used, abused and misused by adults, parents, friends of families, siblings, fellow-students, and just downright heartless humans. Some are also being refused through neglect, and advantaged through verbal and psychological mischief. Meanwhile, we still grapple with the pains of not having sufficiently stringent laws that complement the need to meet the mandate to protect all children. The call to legislate laws that will create safe keeping for our children, laws that will expose their abusers, and ensure hard punishments to those found guilty continues. Various individuals and agencies continue to request these long overdue legislative ammunition that can cushion the rights of Dominica’s little and innocent population.
The laws on our books are outdated as it relates to Child Sexual Offences, and Dominica still awaits the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill to be dealt with in a speedy manner. While these laws are necessary, one cannot solely depend on this to deter the heinous acts committed against children. The need for education of parents, children, teachers, community and the like is great. Preparing children to learn and discern the difference between a good touch and fondling cannot be ignored and the incessant use of social media and the likes to remind all people that our children are our future guaranteed must remain front and center while we attempt to develop as a small island state. As a matter of fact, the need to protect our children, is everybody’s business, and is not a seasonal affair, but a constant necessity. I dare say, we adults, society, policy makers, law enforcement and the powers that be, have NO Choice in this matter!
With the vast number of cases of child abuse and neglect occurring in our small island, compounded by post Hurricane Maria unsettling events, the public outcry needs to reach the core of the authorities in our land. This is so sad that such a law is not being given the priority it deserves.
We must never forget that these children are our future adults. If we mess them up, we mess up our island’s, region’s, and world’s future. What can you and I do to make a difference? WE must find it and do it. Our Children Need US! WE MUST PROTECT & PRESERVE THEM!