KUALA LUMPUR: Education and awareness are among the first steps that adults must take to deal with issues of child sexual abuse, child rights activists said.
Projek Layang-Layang founding member Thency Gunasekaran said many do not dare to seek help even if a family member or children were sexually abused.
â€œSome feel that the matter will bring shame to the family if it was brought up.
â€œThose who should be shamed are not the victims. The abusers are the ones who should be shamed.
â€œIf we really want to ensure that our children are protected, we need to understand what’s sexual abuse, how it can happen and how we can communicate with our children so that they can confide with an adult who can be trusted,” Thency said during a talk entitled “Creating a Safer Malaysia For Children: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse.”
Thency said children have to be taught that their body belongs only to themselves and no one should touch without permission.
Shakirah Rahman, another founding member, advocated for more conversations and dialogues with a purpose of educating more adults so that they can become protectors against child sexual abuse.
â€œWhat Malaysians need to be aware of is that anyone can be an abuser. It doesn’t have to be a criminal or a specific type of person.
â€œAny child can be vulnerable to sexual abuse including children with disabilities and those from marginalised and underprivileged communities.
â€œAll children need to be educated about their bodies, about healthy and unhealthy interactions, what’s acceptable and what’s not,” she said.
Shakirah added that there isnâ€™t enough procedures, such as child protection policies, to regulate how people interact with children.
She also called for screening to be done on volunteers.
â€œYes it’s troublesome but I think one of the primary arguments against that would be that it deters people from volunteering.
â€œWe have a moral obligation and responsibility to make sure that our volunteers do not do more harm to our children so background checks and child protection policies are necessary,” Shakirah said.
Social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said like it or not, legislations and policies need to be looked into again as â€œprevention is more important.â€
He added that it was also time that the police and Government show the public a platform or steps that should be taken if one stumbles upon websites, groups or conversations about child sexual abuse.
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