‘Brunei needs firm child protection strategy’

National 2 minutes, 42 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE President of the Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM) said yesterday that there isn’t enough emphasis placed on children’s issues here and it’s important to look into formulating a decisive child protection strategy.

Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Hj Md Kassim told The Brunei Times that children are a vulnerable group that requires protection, and a firm strategy on child protection would safeguard them from harm.

She said the strategy would provide clarity and guidance on what is required to achieve its objectives to those involved in looking after children.

Datin Paduka Hjh Intan said her NGO’s work has exposed them to numerous vulnerable children.

She said standards and guidelines would help in providing such things as a safe environment for children and prevent abuse or further abuse.

Brunei currently has the Children and Young Persons Act to provide for the care and protection of children.

“The government has initiated some good programmes geared towards child protection, but many aren’t fully implemented. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of resources in terms of manpower and finances. (The lack of) emphasis on children’s issues, resulting in inadequate budgeting, has led to poor implementation or looking good on paper only,” she said.

In the past, government agencies have organised forums and seminars on child protection.

On June 2, 2012, a forum on Child Protection in Brunei Darussalam organised by the Islamic Studies Research Cluster and the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies of Universiti Brunei Darussalam was held to gather information on ways to protect children, including those with special needs.

In June 2013, the Community Development Department (JAPEM) organised a seminar on child protection in an effort to strengthen the family institution in Brunei.

“I’m not saying that in Brunei we don’t have any programmes at all; we do, but in a very limited way, and some are very temporary. It only solves the problem for a couple of months or a couple of years, which doesn’t allow total support to the vulnerable children,” she said.

For example, she said, what would happen to a child who has been continuously abused by a family member although the perpetrator had already served jail time but continued abusing the child after returning home?

Last July, MKM’s Vice-President 1 Nur Judy Abdullah said Brunei needs a national plan for children or at least a social protection strategy for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

She also said the council has encountered cases of children whose parents are unfit to look after them.

“These children are totally neglected or left to the care of relatives,” she said.

Nur Judy said parents who have had run-ins with the law are likely to neglect their children, whose education may be jeopardised.

“We have cases where children are victims of molestation, rape and other sexual abuse and yet no follow-up is done with them after medical check-ups. Childhood sexual abuse can be traumatic to the victims and they are often too young to know how to express what’s happening and seek help.

“If not properly treated, these victims can suffer post traumatic stress disorder and a lifetime of anxiety and depression.”

The Brunei Times