Keep Vanuatu Children Safe

Children’s Day is celebrated every year on July 24th across the country to raise awareness about children’s welfare, their rights and freedom. As an official public holiday of the country, everyone including the government, non-government organizations, churches, educational institutions, businesses, and families come together to reflect on the value and contribution of children to the society.

The theme of this year’s Children’s Day is “Children are our future. Valuing and protecting them at home, communities, provinces and national(ly)”.

Adults across the country should be a source of protection, support and trust for the children. At the very least, they should do no harm. When they are a source of shame, anxiety or stress, the risk to a child is too much to allow it to keep going.

They are many fatal and dangerous trends affecting raising children in our modern time today, not only focusing on Vanuatu perspective, but also across the Pacific. The absentee parents who spend all their outside the home, the age of internet where children are not monitored on what they are watching, child trafficking, adult videos, and sexual abuse are all over the place.

The sexual abuse of minors is now a concern for the courts and police in Vanuatu. The numbers are increasing because families and victims now know there is a judicial system in place to assist them and are coming out to report it because of the extensive awareness campaigns by concerned authorities.

The media has the responsibility to continue reporting on this issue to raise awareness and hopefully put a stop to it occurring to more children. This issue should not be deemed negative news but rather a fight by all concerned to put a stop to the unacceptable practices.

Parents also have the responsibility to provide children the opportunity to be resilient to difficult people; part of being resilient knows when to draw a bold heavy line between ourselves and another.

Most children will not always be able to say when something doesn’t feel right, particularly if it’s in response to an adult whose authority they have been taught to respect or whose intensions they’ve been taught to trust.

“In various cases, abuses of children across the nation were committed by people we trust, the ones that are close relatives or are known to the victim”.

Parents must be careful who they left children with at home or at school. Parent, you cannot trust anyone because of the exposure to changes that are taking place technology-wise for example.

When you leave your child for someone to look after or mind for you, the fact remains you don’t know what people are doing behind your back with your child. Raising children requires a lot of patience and a good environment to teach and interact, teaching cultural, spiritual, intellectual values and otherwise.

As citizens of this beautiful nation, it is our Christian duty to support each other as parents, teachers, coaches and other adults in the lives of our children and this is true- to a point. What’s more important is supporting our own children in drawing the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to other people.

Sometimes that means openly naming unacceptable behavior. You know your child, and you will know when something is changing them- the way they are, the way they see themselves. Trust yourself to know when something isn’t right. We cannot stop toxic people coming into the lives of our children.

What we can do though is give our children independence of mind and permission to recognize that person and their behavior as wrong. We can teach our children that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behavior, beliefs or influence.

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to adults should never be used against them by those broken adults who might do harm. Let’s do whatever we can to keep them that way.

“Happy Children’s Day!”

Bino Dickson

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