Unicef Indonesia aims to raise awareness about violence against children through the Protector of Children campaign. (Antara Photo/Prasetyo Utomo)

Unicef Indonesia Spotlights Violence Against Children in Web Campaign

BY :VRITI WADHWA

SEPTEMBER 12, 2015

Jakarta. The United Nations Children’s Fund's Indonesia office has been focusing on factors such as child development, social policy, education, communication and child protection, key objectives that revolve around one another to ensure the the healthy upbringing of a child with an educational background can lead to a financially sufficient life.

While Indonesia has made vast improvements in all of these factors over the past years, significant changes still need to be made  ̶̶  especially in child protection.

According to a Global School health study conducted across Indonesia in 2007, 40 percent of students between the ages of 13-15 reported of having been physically attacked during the school year.

The figure is one of the highest reported rates in the world, spurring Unicef to launch the website campaign Protector of Children, which aims to eradicate violence against children.

“The website is a platform to share information about violence against children and what everyone – either as parents, teachers, neighbors, even bystanders – can do to prevent and respond to it,” said Ali Ramly, a child protection specialist for Unicef Indonesia.

The site provides contact details of child protection services available in Indonesia, along with feedback given by visitors on such service centers  ̶̶  whether they respond well or are no longer available.

Protector of Children is currently up and running but will be regularly updated with new material. Later this month, for example, the site will feature a new education tab containing articles on child abuse cases and basic information on how to protect the nation's children.

Taboo

Asking for help or even speaking out on violence against children can be a challenging ordeal in Indonesia, due largely to the conservative attitude still held by many of its people and a prevalent culture of reluctance. The Protector of Children website aims to eliminate the fear that may come with reporting cases of child violence and works to forge strong relationships in communities.

“The site features a forum that will also allow open discussions on violence, subsequently raising awareness on the issue,” Ali said. "This is one way of changing the norms of a society that doesn't want to talk about violence."

According to a baseline study supported by Unicef, children remain reluctant to report cases of sexual abuse due to an overwhelming sense of shame.

Unicef Indonesia has, therefore, found ways to tap into religion and culture to approach the issue.

“Our programs in South Sulawesi work with local governments and religious leaders, calling on them to raise awareness through verses in the Koran and teachings of the prophet that work to protect children," Ali said.

In East Nusa Tenggara, meanwhile, Unicef enlisted the help of local churches and biblical scripture.

Economic progress

Though the Protector of Children campaign primarily aims to provide aid for Indonesia's children, it also has the long-term potential of improving the nation's economy.

Studies have shown that abuse and mistreatment at a young age can lead to mental health issues, physical disabilities and a severe lack of any professional achievements later in life.

“Children who are victims of violence are more likely to drop out of school,which subsequently makes them less likely to function or contribute to their  community," Ali said.

Unicef created a model to estimate the economic costs of violence against children, based on studies of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and its consequences. The 2004 study discovered that child maltreatment can incur annual state losses of up to $160 billion.

Unicef Indonesia is working to underline that everyone has a role to play in this movement against child abuse; not only for the children's future, but also for that of the nation.

“We invite NGO partners, experts and members of the community to contribute articles and information [on violence against children] … Their positive experience in reporting [cases of abuse] and seeking help will hopefully encourage others to do the same,” Ali said.

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