Creating a safe environment for children

The child abuse and exploitation occur in most countries and communities. It’s still difficult to define it as a global phenomenon due to cultural, religious, social, political, legal and economic differences experienced by children. What is considered a violation in one part of the world might be acceptable elsewhere.
Childhood is a stage where humans are more at risk because they have not finished physical or mental development. Violence against children may therefore be defined as the deliberate use of force against children, beatings or torture, as well as subjecting the child to medical or psychological neglect, or even ignoring his basic needs in life. Physical harassment is violence. This concept also affects the psychological aspect of children as much as cursing them or describing them with the ugliest descriptions.
To protect children from violence is in fact to protect children from exposure to any manifestations and forms of violence, and to work to address incidents of violence as they occur.
Gloomily, in 2017 the WHO estimated that up to 1 billion minors between the ages of 2 and 17 years of age have endured violence physical, emotional, or sexual. Sexual abuse (from groping to rape), according to some UNICEF estimates from 2014, affected over 120 million children, representing the highest number of victims.
In addition, according to UNICEF 2017 data for 28 countries, out of 10 adolescents who reported forced relations, nine revealed that they were victims of someone they knew or were close to the family. What I would to indicate here is that, the house is not the only theatre of violence, as such schools and the sports world, are also environments where physical assault can occur.
It’s not always easy to recognize when a child has been abused. Children who are abused are often afraid to complain because they are fearful that they will be blamed or that no one will believe them. As such, parents should watch for unexplained changes in a child’s body or behaviour. For instance, parents should be alert to changes or a sign that carries physical abuse (injuries cannot be explained), abuse (nightmares, unusual fear, abdominal pain, behaviour that seems inappropriate for the child’s age), in addition to signs of emotional abuse or neglect.
However, child protection must be ensured by the parents and the community which surround them, and then by the government. Of course, the well being of each child cannot be obtained in the same way. We do need to raise awareness among members of the community, especially mothers and the family must also be aware of how to deal properly with children.
When a child makes a mistake, he should not be subjected to beatings or cursing, but should replace that method with understanding and teaching him the correct way to behave in different situations that he experiences during his developmental stages. Also, the tone of the adult with their children should be devoid of command or control, in addition to not using the threat, because it reduces the child’s self-confidence, and makes him hate his parents.
It is important to know that it is not enough to spread awareness among members of society, as some consider protecting the child from violence, or minimizing its occurrence, does not fall within its individual responsibility. Therefore, it is imperative that laws be enacted to regulate the conduct of individuals towards children and protect their rights contained or stipulated in the constitutions in force.
We need to ensure children enjoy full rights and keep the ongoing forums open to discuss child abuse through clear communication, as this definitely will end with positive and critical response. It is also necessary to effectively address the issue of child protection and well-being in order to create a safe environment for children.

Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at: