End violence against children; be the change
November 23, 2012

End violence against children; be the change

by Bria King Fri, Nov 23, 2012

Children in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been speaking out against violence against children and how they have been affected.{{more}}

On Tuesday, the Ministry of National Mobilisation celebrated Universal Children’s Day with a conference at the Methodist Church Hall held under the theme “End Violence Against Children. Be the Change. Speak up!”

The event, which had a healthy turn out of secondary and primary school students, saw most of the presentations made by children from various schools across the country.

Presentations were made on sub-topics pertaining to child abuse and while all presentations were informative and well received by the audience, the highlight came when Chestley Kirby of the Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Centre did a heartfelt presentation on “Living with Violence”.

Kirby noted that in St Vincent, the crime rate has grown tremendously over the years and that people between the ages of 19 and 25 make up 35 per cent of the prison’s population.

He stated that he often asked himself “how do criminals become the way they are, in the first place?”

Kirby told listeners that he was a product of lack of proper parental guidance and poverty and as these cannot be the answers, his question remains unanswered.

“It is the responsibility of parents and the society as a whole to raise a child to ensure that the proper values are instilled, so that children can become a productive member of that said society,” the youngster opined.

He added that adults have been ignoring their roles and that children were suffering the consequences.

“Unfortunately, in my short lived existence, I myself have been subjected to both physical and psychological violence,” Kirby said; “… persons who were expected to love and care for me every day, reminding me of how unwanted I was and how little they think of me…”

Tearfully, he began to conclude by saying that no child should live like he did. He encouraged people in society to stand up and speak out against child abuse.

Madonna Shallow of the Girls’ High School also gave a personal view when she explained her battle with cutting, because of being verbally abused and feeling unloved.

“I was called every possible name you could think of,” she said. “I was hurting so much that I would sit in my room and I would cut myself.”

She stated that although she had friends, her problems were not something she liked to talk about and she would take out her built up anger on herself.

As therapy, Shallow began writing poems and she shared the first poem she wrote with the audience.

The Girls’ High School student stated that she was invited to a crusade where she heard the word of God.

“I realized that there was a divine God that had this love for me that no one around here could ever give to me.”

Shallow stated that now she knows that her purpose on the earth was to show others that only God can give the love that they need.

Eli Francis, senior assistant secretary in the Ministry of National Mobilisation highlighted ‘The Rights of the Child’ in his address.

He explained that the Ministry of National Mobilisation is responsible for making sure that these rights are upheld and encouraged those who have been wrongly treated or disadvantaged to come to the ministry for help.

“Anyone that takes advantage of you, they are dealt with according to the law; so you have the Ministry on your side as a friend and big brother and mentor,” he said.

Additionally, education officer Maureen Williams stated that the Ministry of Education was very concerned about the children of the nation and plays an active part in bringing about the change highlighted in the theme.

“Education is considered one of the key agents in achieving a more friendly society…one that has less violence directed towards children,” she said.

The provision of peer counsellors in schools is one way in which the Ministry has supported students and provided an avenue for them to speak about their problems.

After the morning session came to an end, the afternoon offered a smorgasbord of talent that was displayed by various schools in the country.

The School for Children with Special Needs displayed their talented students, as two boys executed lively drumming and four hearing impaired individuals performed a dance to Shakira’s “Waka Waka”.

The talent segment also included dances from the C W. Prescod and Brighton Methodist Primary Schools and a choral speech from the Biabou Methodist School. Junior Calypso Monarch Christine Christopher serenaded the crowd with her winning song and Walt Carter performed a gospel melody.

Students present at the conference thought that it was both entertaining and educational.