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Violence against children on the rise

By The Statesman

Staggering reports from the Department of Children of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs indicate that violence against children is on the increase despite various legislative provisions on the rights of the child which seek to stem the act.

According to the report, more than 6,000 Ghanaian children have been defiled in six years between 2002 and 2007, with 2007 recording the highest figure of 1,578.

The Head of Research of the unit, Sylvester Kyei-Gyamfi, in a presentation at a stakeholders meeting in Sunyani, said in an attempt to address the situation, Ghana has enacted some laws and have also signed-up to some international conventions.

He noted that the workshop, which is being run across the country, is to disseminate information on violence against children and to also create the awareness of the various stakeholders, including school children and teachers, District Assemblies and social workers on the rights of children.

It is also to sensitise Ghanaians against child abuse using the UN Report as the basis. This, he explained, will help educate the general public on the Five-Year National Action Plan on violence against children.

According to him, response from the various workshops the department has organised so far is very positive. He expressed the hope that the trend could be reversed as stakeholders discussed the need to stop all forms of violence against children.

Mr. Kyei-Gyamfi explained that the import of the 5-year Action Plan is to "create a safe environment that protects children from all forms of violence wherever they occur including the home, school and the workplace.'

The Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Department, Hammond Oppong-Kwarteng told this paper that the regional secretariat has embarked on series of educational campaign in the schools and in the various communities in their efforts to reduce the high incidence of violence against children.

He therefore called on the media to support their bid to reach out to the entire society.

Analysts say violence against children is a global problem but also a hidden problem. Research also shows that violence against children occurs everywhere around the world, but socio-cultural, economic and political factors influence the kind of violence children face wherever they find themselves.

According to the UN report, which was published in October 2006, between 20 and 65 percent of school-aged children were reported to have been verbally or physically bullied. 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence.

Also in the report, between 100 and 140 million girls and women around the globe have undergone some form of female genital cutting.

The study further indicated that 218 million children might have been involved in child labour, 126 million of those in hazardous work. 1.8 million are said to have been involved in prostitution and pornography, whilst 1.2 million are victims of child trafficking.