The Department of Children of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in partnership with the European Union Ghana and other partners, has commenced a community sensitization campaign to protect children from abuse.
The campaign is to protect children from child labour, sexual harassment, trafficking, child marriage, child drug abuse, and COVID-19 especially as many schools are on vacation. It also advocates for the prevention of domestic violence against women.
Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, the Acting Director of the Department, said the two-week campaign would be conducted within selected districts across the country. Beneficiary regions include Western North, Ashanti, Bono, and North East.
She said the campaign was because of the consistent recording of varied cases of child abuse and domestic violence against women in some parts of the country.
Moreover, it was important to ensure that children adhered to the COVID-19 safety protocols even while at home, as everyone was at risk.
Mrs Quartey explained that domestic violence against women was included in the campaign to drive home the fact that protected women could protect children better.
She said the campaign would pull community media, traditional media, fliers, religious leaders, and traditional leaders to sensitize community members.
Mrs Quartey revealed that per a study conducted by the Department, 67.3 per cent of children did not know whether they had rights and 67.1 per cent did not know where to report incidences of child abuse.
The study also indicated that 0.7 per cent of children used tramadol and other psychotropic drugs while 3.1 per cent engaged in gambling.
The Director said though the financial circumstances of some parents and guardians may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic or some other reason, the needs of their wards had not changed.
Thus, parents and guardians, must find ways of ensuring that they meet the needs of their children, and seek support from avenues like the church, communities, and their Local Assemblies when it became necessary.
Mrs Quartey advised victims of child abuse and domestic violence not to “let situations overwhelm you… there are people there to support you”.
“Call us on 0800800800, 0900900900, 0800111222 for specialists to help you. It doesn’t need to be I am being beaten, it could be, I just need somebody to talk to and you will get people to give advice or support you.”
She, however, noted that children played a crucial role in their own safety, saying, “If you know places that are not safe, don’t go there. What your parents tell you, listen to them, obey them and help them take care of you. Also ensure that you are in the company of children who are there to help you do good, not children who are going to take you into bad situations.”
The campaign will also focus on children below three years, who are themselves victims of the effects of COVID-19.