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Friday Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Minister of Human Services and Social Security spent time addressing the worrying rise in cases of bullying that were occurring in schools and other areas and was vocal in the importance of understanding types of abuse, recognising when it occurred and why it was important for children and adults to report these instances.
Minister Persaud asked the children to say if they experienced bullying and gave guidance on how to respond, even referring to a National Anti-Bullying programmme created along with the Young Influencers that will be shared with agencies including schools.
The minister exhorted teachers and parents to listen to children when they spoke about bullying and abuse and urged them to report and nip it in the bud. She said, “kindness should never be overemphasized” and continued, “for children to confide in parents they must desist from verbally or emotionally abusing their own children,” to which many admitted right there to experiencing this.
Persaud stressed keeping the communication channels always open while demonstrating by good example. She called for a united response involving everyone to tackle the ugly scourges of child abuse and bullying. The children eagerly responded to her questions and engagement and many of the adults could be seen nodding their heads in agreement. She promised to continue to amplify the “Every Child Safe Campaign” through all the various programmes.
She was at the time addressing hundreds of children from various Children Homes, Daycares and Private Schools who converged at the National Park to participate in the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security and the Child Care and Protection Agency’s culmination of Child Protection Week which commenced on September 17, 2023.
The Diplomatic community , including Ambassadors of the UK, China, European Union , and Chief Of Mission and Deputy of the US Embassy, UN Resident Representative and the Deputy Director of UNICEF, Chair of the Rights of the Child Commission , parents, educators, teachers, caregivers, parents and staff of the Human Services Ministry joined children sitting comfortably on mats and grass to engage in listening to presentations, enjoying child performances and sharing pertinent and strong messages on keeping our children safe.
A rousing march and rally followed with banners carried proudly and children and adults chanting lustily committing to work together to keep all children safe.
The Assistant Directors of the Childcare Agency gave an overview of the purpose of the Child Protection Week and the many programmes of the Agency that tackle key issues like teenage pregnancy, child abuse and children on the street. They emphasised the need for collective efforts from all agencies and communities. Ms. Harding from the Guyana Police Force and Mr. Vickram Mohabir, Senior Guidance and Counselling Officer, Ministry of Education expressed the importance of keeping children safe and what actions ought to be taken by various persons to encourage this. Deputy Representative of UNICEF for Guyana and Suriname, Mr. Irfan Akhter, expressed his admiration for the event and looked forward to it expanding and increasing awareness of children issues, he highlighted the excellent collaboration between UNICEF and Human Services and UNICEF”s continued commitment.
Children had a fun filled time visiting educational booths, winning prizes, learning about early childhood development, teenage pregnancy and more, along with enjoying sweet treats and snacks. Everyone got into the fun with lime and spoon and sack races. Even the minister ans staff members were seen competing in the lime and spoon races. Child Protection week ends with a bang and many commitments to all keep children safe.