Safeguarding our children is challenging but critical, and there are steps that society can jointly take towards this goal, says Mrs Priscilla Lui, former Chairperson of the Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights and Director of Against Child Abuse.
Mrs Lui, who delivered the 14th Singapore Children’s Society Lecture over Zoom on 28 August 2021, outlined five key steps, based on the experiences of several major cities.
- Identify pressing needs and potential threats: Calling the COVID-19 crisis a “code red for humanity”, Mrs Lui pointed to how the pandemic has exacerbated risks and harm done to children. This is especially so for those who have limited access to support and resources. Areas such as children’s psychological well-being and online safety need to be better promoted, while ensuring their rights are protected
- Create a platform for children: A Child Commissioner or Child Ombudsman could champion the interests of children, including in policy formulation and in ensuring a quality child protection system
- Formalise policies and implementation plans: Put formal policies and laws in place to protect children and their rights, and enforce these through proactive action plans that are unhindered by bureaucracy. Put baseline laws in place, including laws to address child pornography, corporal punishment, and to review child fatalities
- Encourage positive parenting and community empowerment: Make a caring, respectful, and violence-free culture the norm, starting with the home environment
- Empower children: Children are stakeholders and have much to say and offer. Engage and empower them to participate, and to shape their own future
“Let children be our shared vision, our common goal and the purpose of our journey in reconstructing a future that is welcoming, safe, caring and respectful for us all. Show children how to respect the rights of others by demonstrating respect for their rights,” she concludes.
The Lecture attracted more than 340 participants, including from overseas.
During the Question and Answer session, moderated by Dr Tan Seok Hui and Dr Quah Saw Han, the focus was on how neighbours, members of the public, and schools could identify vulnerable children and intervene. Mrs Lui also highlighted the need for parents to look after their own emotional and mental health, so that they would have the patience and energy to care for children effectively. This included being able to discipline without using corporal punishment, and engage without relying on electronic devices like mobile phones or tablets.
In case you missed it, the Lecture transcript is now available on our website. A recording can also be viewed on our Facebook page.
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