Friday, 23 May 2014

Violence against children in Indonesia – Make the Invisible Visible

- By Marc Lucet, Deputy Representative UNICEF Indonesia -

Last week I had the privilege of representing UNICEF at a press conference given by the Minister of Social Affairs, Salim Segaf al Jufri, on the issue of violence against children in Indonesia. The press conference was also attended by the National Development Planning Ministry, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission and the National Commission of Child Protection. Given the many reports about child abuse in Indonesia in recent weeks, many journalists, both from national and international media attended.

Minister Segaf al Jufri called for a national movement to defeat violence against children. As a global organization, UNICEF is at the forefront of international efforts to prevent children from suffering violence and abuse, and so we welcome this initiative very much. It is exactly what needs to be done.

Everyone has a role to play in this national movement. Not only the Government of Indonesia but also individual teachers, health workers, social workers and parents should all engage with this idea. We must take action by offering immediate support to the victims of violence against children. And we must work hard to prevent it by detecting cases and intervening early.

It is also very important that children themselves take part in this movement. We know children who have been victims of violence are more likely to talk to their peers then to adults about what has happened to them. However, we must find ways to help these children get access to professional psychological support. And we must provide them with opportunities to tell us what needs to be done to better prevent violence and abuse.

Our actions are most likely to be successful when informed by data so we commend the Government of Indonesia for responding to the lack of comprehensive evidence on the extent of violence against children by undertaking a first national survey on this issue.  The study on the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual abuse against boys and girls will inform us about the size of the problem and its impact on children’s health, as well as telling us whether children seek help or not, and why.

Talking about violence against children, and reporting cases of abuse, can be hard when the issue is considered a taboo. This national movement must bring violence against children out into the open so that no child feels too ashamed to tell a parent, teacher or friend that they have suffered abuse.

We must make the Invisible Visible!

The media is an important partner in breaking this taboo. And also in shaping the public opinion and building support for this movement. But reporters and editors need to be guided by the best interests of the child. They should never reveal the identity of a child victim of violence or abuse. Every child has the right to preserve their dignity.

Every case of child abuse, every time when a child is subject to violence, is one too many. Let’s together engage in the national movement to defeat violence against children in Indonesia. Let’s make the invisible visible and commit to breaking the silence and act.


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