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Gaborone hosts psychosocial support forum

The Department of Social Protection will host a three-day Psychosocial Support Forum at Tlotlo Conference Centre in Gaborone from today.

Last week, stakeholders agreed at a breakfast meeting ahead of the forum that psychosocial support is crucial in the raising of children and moulding them into wholesome individuals.

The meeting was held at the Department of Social Protection to update the media on the upcoming Psychosocial Support Forum.

The department director, Ruth Radibe, told the gathering that the forum is a demonstration of government’s recognition of the importance of psychosocial support to children  and its commitment towards  moulding children into mentally fit individuals. Radibe said the forum will hold children’s discussion sessions to give them a chance to play a role in the events and resolutions of the meeting. “The children will have a chance to present their concerns and challenges before the Minister of Local Government,” she said.

She indicated that the meeting would interrogate the existing structures and methods used to provide psychosocial support to children in Botswana and evaluate if they had the intended impact. She said that they would share experiences with experts from other countries. “There are countries which are advanced in terms of providing psychosocial support to their children and we need to see what can be copied from them and see how best to apply it here,” she said.

Radibe acknowledged that the media has a bigger role to play in enhancing the rights of children

and informing and teaching the nation about the importance of psychosocial support. “Children watch a lot of television and many youngsters are on social networks. So it is important to take the media on board in trying to address this problem,” she said.

Another speaker, Noreen Huni, said it was important for families and society to take note when children start behaving abnormally. “When that child starts wetting the blankets, becomes aggressive, isolated and does not want to mix with other people, those could be signs that there is lack of psychosocial support,” she explained.

Huni said that studies have revealed that some anti-retroviral drugs have negative neurological effects on children and it is  important to address the problem as soon as possible. “Children need more than just physical support. You cannot do anything for your child if you do not budget for their love and care. You cannot just be concerned about what is tangible and forget about what makes them who they are,” she said.

A youngster at the meeting, Karabo Loeto warned that giving children a chance to participate in such forums and not implementing the decisions would count for nothing.“Action should be taken and their (children) views should be reflected on polices that would be drafted as a result of such gatherings,” she said.  




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