Child protection agenda: Agenda for the future

07 Dec, 2016 - 00:12 0 Views
Child protection agenda: Agenda for the future

The Herald

Musekiwa Makwanya Correspondent—

COMBATING child abuse and safeguarding children is a complex and challenging endeavour for any country in any part of the world. What complicates matters is the fact that the landscape is always changing as new information comes to light and child protection systems are evolving.Zimbabwe is not an exception.

The Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, with support from development partners, in particular Unicef, developed the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (NAP for OVC) evolving in phases.

NAP phase one was in 2005-2010, phase two — 2011-2015 and the next phase — NAP 2016-2020. It is important is to note that Zimbabwe’s National Action Plan has been evolving and drawing from lessons during the implementation of its child protection systems. Child protection systems are a set of usually Government-run services designed to protect children and young people and to encourage family stability. While there is no universally agreed upon definition, Unicef defines a child protection system as a set of laws, policies, regulations and services needed across all social sectors — especially social welfare, education, health, security and justice — to support prevention and response to protection-related risks.

These systems are part of social protection, and extend beyond it. (United Nations Economic and Social Council (2008), Unicef Child Protection Strategy, E/ICEF/2008 /5/Rev.1, par. 12-13.)

At the level of prevention, child protection systems and social protection are social safety nets that aim to support and strengthen families to reduce social exclusion and mitigate the risk of separation, violence and exploitation, what is generally termed child abuse in its various forms. The public reads with revulsion and utter disgust media reports of children sexually abused, neglected and physically abused with some children actually dying.

It is not African culture to abuse children, although some parents physically abuse children in the name of disciplining them. The line ought to be drawn by policymakers between enforcing behaviour modification and excessive physical chastisement. Use of implements such as sticks, belts and electric cables and in some cases fists on a child is clear abuse.

Alternative ways of correcting and shaping our children’s behaviour and promoting positive character should be promoted through positive parenting.

A good child protection system discourages social engineering while promoting innovation among those who care for children in both public and private spaces.

Best practice requires that responsibilities to protect and safeguard children are spread across Government agencies, non-State service providers, community groups and families. This makes coordination between sectors and levels, including routine referral systems, a necessary component of effective child protection systems. The National Case Management System for the protection of children in Zimbabwe was designed to achieve exactly that, as case management system is an approach of addressing child abuse or safeguarding children matters.

At a broader level, Zimbabwe has a National Social Protection Policy Framework that will be launched soon.

The National Social Protection Policy is meant to mitigate the weaknesses inherent in the country’s social protection system including fragmentation and duplication, and enhance predictability, consistence, transparency and accountability of the social protection system. Overall, the policy framework aims to reducing extreme poverty through empowering and building resilience in poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged households.

The social protection programmes such as the harmonised cash transfers programme being implemented through the Department of Social Services, attempts to address chronic poverty, enhance household resilience, manage risks of economic dynamics at household and community levels.

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