Communities urged to be the watchdogs against child abuse
Community members have to play a more active ‘watchdog’ role to report cases of child abuse in order to ensure child justice.
The advice was made by child rights activists organised under the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network during a media interaction to raise the public’s attention to rising cases of child abuse in Uganda.
The activists called for the extension of a ban on corporal punishment to homes following recent cases of parents assaulting their own children in their homes.
The Executive Director Raising Teenagers Uganda Hope Nankunda says that despite Uganda having good laws protecting children against violence only a few cases reach the justice system because of a poor reporting culture by members of the communities.
Nankunda is optimistic that if more community members come out and report these cases of child abuse just like the recent viral video, violence against children will be better addressed through the justice system
“I must say we appreciate people who record videos that bring out the message to the public but can we also do more?, can we stop these actions from happening because it is so painful to watch a video of a child being beaten to death …., so we challenge each and every one out there to take it upon themselves to speak against violence and be able to carry this message wherever they go,” said Nankunda.
Calling on the government to strengthen the child protection structures at the district, recruit probation officers, Damon Wamara, the Executive Director Uganda Child Rights NGO Network notes that the local council authorities ought to be empowered in order to play their expected roles of child protection.
“We need to train the LC 3 chairpersons, empower and equip the. We need to ensure that every district has a trained, empowered and well facilitated probation officer so that they can be able to respond to the issues of children, we need to ensure that we have the child and family welfare officer in every police station as it is supposed to be under the Uganda Police force and we want to see that these people are empowered to be first respondents to issues of violence against children”-Wamara.
Wamara stresses that where children’s rights are violated in the community, the LCs and probation officers can help to be the gatekeepers and protectors of the children.
Timothy Opobo, the Executive Director AfriChild adds the justice structures in Uganda are frustrating the efforts by the civil society organisations to ensure that the victims of violence against children get justice.