Children are perhaps the most vulnerable in the society. They deserve to be raised in a conducive environment, which will see them grow into responsible citizens who are able to make sound decisions and contribute meaningfully to their country’s developments.
UNICEF came up with a brilliant campaign ‘Eseng Mo Ngwaneng’, which was launched by First Lady Neo Masisi late last year. The campaign against sexual exploitation and abuse of children, caught fire, as many responsible citizens took a stand to own it and be part of the crusade. A number of non-governmental organisations are trying their level best to launch different campaigns that advocate for protection of children at all costs. Let’s now as citizens stand up and lobby for stiffer penalties on perpetrators of child abuse!
We have seen horrifying reports of child abuse in recent years, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more unreported cases of child abuse across the country. Of late there has been complaints by a number of citizens, who seem frustrated as a result of not having proper information on the steps to take to report a parent or guardian who is abusing their own child (children). Renowned corporate emcee, Comfort ‘Big Fish’ Ramatebele, through his Facebook page has been campaigning for relevant authorities to come to the rescue of a little boy he says is undergoing gruesome abuse at the hands of his mother. Big Fish is unfortunately not the only one to have witnessed abuse by parents on their children. There are many others who out of frustration of not knowing where to go have tried to involve the Botswana Police Services (BPS), but sometimes to no avail because of the complexity of the issue.
Childline Botswana, an NGO, which was started as a response to the escalating numbers of child abuse is there to help abused children, but to what extent does legislation support their efforts? We have previously seen cases, where children died at the hands of their own parents, and this can be prevented.
It is time we considered, benchmarking with the United States for example, which has one of the best systems when it comes to the protection of children, through its Child Protective Services.
There is need for the government to review and come up with firm laws that will protect children against all forms of abuse, regardless of whether the abuser is a relative or not. Yes, in an ideal situation families should be encouraged to stay together and raise their children together, but that should not happen at the expanse of the children.
We should be open to the idea of children being removed from abusive homes. How many more innocent children are we willing to lose before we take a stand?