Help and Shelter in alliance with Every Child Guyana on Thursday held its first Pickney Project Roundtable to discuss the findings thus far and among them was the need for community support and involvement in protecting children from abuse.
The project seeks to improve the lives of children who are experiencing violence and abuse as well as other vulnerable children at risk in Georgetown, Sophia, Good Hope and Region Nine.
Georgetown and Sophia would be areas of special focus in this first phase of the project followed by Good Hope and Region Nine over the next two years in an effort to promote the safety and protection of children.
In a telephone interview with Project Officer Vidyaratha Kissoon, Stabroek News was told that coming out of the findings there has been tremendous parent participation and appreciation for the implementation of the Pickney Project.
According to Kissoon, “such support from parents is very vital as they, in most cases, would know the challenges facing their children.”
The need to provide training to health workers, especially nurses was another finding of the project as they too can detect abuse.
Teachers were also seen as crucial as they can identify the issues with which children are plagued.
The need for community support and involvement was also raised. Kissoon emphasised that the community is also responsible for protecting its children and has a role to play in offering the best quality of life for them. The project officer stressed also the call for law enforcers to respond to reports of abuse in a prompt and professional manner and highlighted this as another finding of the project. Greater emphasis, he noted, also should be placed on catering for the needs of children who are mentally challenged.
These findings, according to Kissoon, are objectives which should be met by the end of 2011.
The areas of increased access to psycho-social support including child friendly counselling and court support for children who have been abused and are at risk will also be addressed, including the establishment of a facilitated network of faith-based, community-based youth groups, and government and non-governmental organisations that would work to support the protection of children and their rights.
The project which is a community-based one intends to foster child protection in a community setting and has taken on board faith-based organisations, community groups and other groups and individuals in Sophia who have expressed willingness to mobilise the change.