Wednesday, 11 July 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s - Senator Malaka Parker and other Caribbean ministers with oversight for Youth, Child Protection and Social Development are currently attending the 23rd meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in Guyana.
Held under the theme, “Charting our future: an integrated development agenda for children and youth,” the main objective of the July 10 to 12 meeting is to arrive at a regional approach to protect children and youth.
According to Senator Parker, who is the for Parliamentary Secretary, in the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation, Consumer Affairs & Local Government, the COHSOD conference will address issues such as early childhood care and development; children and migration; and youth employment and development. The forum will also seek to diagnose the vexing problem of violence against children in the Caribbean.
“These issues will strike a chord in the chorus for an integrated development agenda that can chart the future of our children and youth and provide for them a safer and more enabling environment in which they can grow and develop,” a release said.
“Also under the microscope is the controversial and rather sensitive issue of corporal punishment. The COHSOD Meeting intends to address this sticking point and hopefully arrive at a consensus on legal and other measures to stamp out corporal punishment.”
In 2006, United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children is arguably the most telling piece of empirical exposé on the magnitude of the problem, especially in the Caribbean. Its findings point to the disturbing fact that violence does not discriminate between rich and poor nations and pervades all societies within which children grow up. Sadly, the report notes that violence is part of the economic, cultural and societal norms that make up many children’s environment.
Another issue high on the agenda of the meeting is sexual and reproductive risks in adolescents.The World Bank’s Caribbean Youth Development Report (2003) noted that the Caribbean had the earliest age of sexual “debut” in the world with many young people being initiated into sexual behaviour as a consequence of child abuse from as early as 10 years old, and in some cases even earlier.
More recently, the 2009 UNICEF study on child sexual abuse in the Eastern Caribbean not only established that the problem is escalating in the sub-region but also identified emerging forms of abuse such as the use of young boys in an organized network to service cruise ship passengers.
Senator Parker said that the countries of the region must realise that “youth” are now regarded as a vulnerable group in relation to HIV/AIDS and common sense practical approaches to their protection must be implemented.
Concerns are also being raised about Incest and child molestation, sexual violence in institutions that were once perceived as safe havens or places of safety -- orphanages, detention centres, in schools, in foster homes and in their own homes.
It is this recognition that has prompted CARICOM Heads of Government at their just concluded 33rd regular three-day conference in Saint Lucia to emphasize the need for “concerted action, at all levels, to address the increasing challenge of child abuse – particularly sexual abuse.”
The concerns of ministers with responsibility for children and youth at this two-day meeting therefore, will be how to strengthen existing policies, introduce and expedite national legislation and devise sustainable interventions to abort all forms of violence against children.
The Meeting will also look at the grievous problem of school violence and its deleterious social and personal impact; and of course, explore “anti-violence intervention strategies as well as recommendations for a zero-tolerance policy on school violence.”
Also included in the matters to be discussed are childhood obesity and the inclusion of youth in disaster mitigation strategies.