Speakers at a public forum organised by the Paediatric Society of Ghana (PSG) have called for a sustained education campaign on responsible parenting to curb the increasing rate of abuse and all forms of injustice against children.
They also observed that the issue of child protection cuts across all sections of the society, and therefore, everyone, especially parents and guardians, whose inaction and actions could contribute significantly to the elimination of injustice and abuse perpetrated against children in the society, need to play their respective roles.
The forum, attended by schoolchildren, parents/guardians, proprietors of pre-schools and queens, formed part of several fora planned by the society to empower parents/guardians to adequately play their roles in protecting their children, as well as to provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge and experiences. It was on the theme “Child Protection- Everybody’s Business”.
Speaking on the topic “Safe Discipline”, Dr Eben V. Badoe of the Department of Child Health, University of Ghana Medical School, urged the public, especially the PSG, to lead the campaign against the unnecessary and unjust practices that violated children’s rights.
He advised parents to desist from spanking their children and resort to disciplinary actions that will afford children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, stressing that “parents must accept the fact that conflict between them and their children were inevitable, and therefore love and concern for the child’s best interest must be their final guide, coupled with prayers for them”
Dr Nana K. Sereboe, a member of the PSG, in her presentation on “What is Child Abuse?” -defined child abuse as all forms of physical and/or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligent treatment or commercial exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.
She, therefore, called for vigorous advocacy and communication, as well as the enforcement of laws to help prevent abuse against children.
Madam Peace Atsu, a social worker, and Mr Charles Noyoru of the Department of Children, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, who spoke on the topics “Child Protection: The Role of the Community” and “The Rights of the Child (based on the Children’s Act)” respectively noted that discipline was a way of life, and that it was the responsibility of the community to help discipline children while protecting their rights.
The President of the Paediatric Society of Ghana (PSG), Prof. Bamemla Goka, earlier in her welcome address expressed concern about the increasing rate of injustice against children such as defilement, which were reported in the media daily.
She attributed them to the lapses on the part of parents/guardians of victims, stressing that “We as Paediatricians and other professionals caring for children, have devoted this year to educate ourselves on the need to deal with child abuse so that we can adequately care for the needs of our patients.
She added that the PSG had held a number of training programmes for doctors, while the society was in the process of establishing a centre at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra to address the medical and psychosocial needs of children who are victims of abuse.