Group: Extend child safety programme to pre-school – The Star Online

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PETALING JAYA: A government initiative for schools to ensure a safe environment for children should be extended to nurseries and kindergartens, says the Association of Registered Childcare Providers.

“Advocacy and empowerment of children are necessary as early as possible so that children are better prepared and understand their rights,” said its president Anisa Ahmad.

“Since the programme is focused on advocacy and empowerment of children to ensure their safety from being abused and neglected, it would be great if it can be extended to pre-school levels.

“We need to teach them about protecting themselves and that no should hurt them. They need to know their rights,” she added.

For now, she said children in nurseries and kindergartens were taught about body parts and their functions as well as about “safe” and “unsafe” touches.

“This is early intervention before they understand what their rights and responsibilities are,” Anisa said.

A child protection advocacy programme called “Kasih Kanak-Kanak” was introduced by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry in September last year.

The ministry’s target is to implement it in 300 schools nationwide this year, with the aim of mobilising society to protect the safety and welfare of children.

So far, it has been held in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Kelantan, Sarawak, Selangor, Melaka and Negri Sembilan.

In a statement to The Star, the ministry said the programme, for instance, would guide people on ways to seek help by calling Talian Kasih 15999 or via WhatsApp at 019-261 5999 in cases of abuse by parents or other family members.

“The advocacy programme is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child which was ratified by Malaysia in 1995 to ensure children can continue living in a safe environment, have their voices heard, as well as there being efforts to develop their potential as future leaders,” it said.

The agencies involved in the programme are the Welfare Department, Women Development Department, National Population and Family Development Board, National Welfare Foundation, Malaysian Social Institute, and Malaysian Board of Counsellors, said the ministry.

Its strategic partners include the Education Ministry, the police, and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

“We will continue to hold discussions with the Education Ministry to ensure continuity and the effectiveness of the implementation of this advocacy in schools across the country,” the ministry added.

However, Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the programme, though well-intended, would require effective implementation to ensure its success.

Some parents did not even know about it, she said.

She said that preventive standard operating procedures should be in place at all times.

“It should not be dependent on a programme schedule,” she said.

“It is also about dealing with the perpetrators and making sure that those who commit the crime face the consequences of the law,” she added.

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