People of the Republic of the Marshall Islands now have a clear picture of child protection issues thanks to the first child protection study for their country and the Northern Pacific.
Titled “Ajiri in Ibunini: Value and Protect Our Precious Children” the report brings together insights from children, teachers, health workers, youth, religious leaders, police and legal workers, and was launched today.
In receiving the report, the President of the Marshall Islands, Honourable Mr. Christopher Loeak directed the Ministry of Internal Affairs to follow up on recommendations.
Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Chief of Child Protection, Ms. Amanda Bissex said “good quality and timely data helps governments to identify what the issues are, who the vulnerable populations are and how best to allocate resources. It helps civil society to understand the dimensions of the issues it faces and how best to plan to address these issues. And it helps organizations such as UNICEF and other international partners to identify where to target our support.”
She added that “violence, abuse and exploitation of children are difficult issues to both openly discuss and to research and that is why this research is so remarkable.”
The Child Protection Baseline report provides analysis of legal frameworks, formal social service structures, and the various environments provided by communities and families; and reviews how effectively each promotes the protection of children. The report also serves as a marker for measuring future progress in the protection of children.
Evidence from the report reveals that traditional practices at the community level go a long way in protecting children from harm, but with increased urbanization and changes in lifestyle these systems are breaking down. Particular issues raised in the report include the need to strengthen the juvenile justice system so as to promote diversion and restorative justice; the urgent need to break the silence on abuse and ensure children and parents are able to speak out and seek help in cases of abuse; and strengthening of the government systems for both prevention and response to child abuse.
In thanking UNICEF, Minister Internal Affairs, Mr. Wilbur Heine said “Ajiri in Ibunini is a comprehensive document based on sound research principles and provides the roadmap and strategic direction required to ensure that our children are protected through the right kinds of policy and services by the government. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their welfare is protected, theri rights are respected, free from fear and want, and that they grow up in peace.”
Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia will soon launch similar baseline assessments of child protection.
- UNICEF, March 21, 2013