Strengthening child protection
The violence directed at the children of this land in
some quarters calls for the intensification of child protection
measures. We are aware that the state has put in place some very
stable institutional mechanisms to contain the evil but the
challenge is to ensure that the young continue to enjoy
emotional and physical security uninterruptedly.
There is a clear need for substantial research into this
species of violence but the research problem does not seem to be
attracting local sociologists and criminologists to a notable
degree. Why this is so is in itself a thought-provoking research
question. Is it because young lives are thought by some to be
We will leave this question open to some thoughtful inputs
from our readers and get down to some reflections on the more
immediate issues in the context of this problem of child-focused
A glance at our front pages over the past couple of days will
reveal the degree to which our children are proving vulnerable
to criminal elements of numerous kinds. There was the news, for
instance, of a Colombo-based syndicate involved in sending
young, below-working-age girls abroad on forged documents. Some
of these victims were reportedly subjected to sexual abuse by
foreign employment agents steering the shady business.
Apparently, the lessons from the Rizana Rafeek tragedy are yet
to be learnt.
There were also the cases of the young boy who was apparently
killed by his mother’s paramour in Pugoda and the young girl who
was very nearly abducted by the money-hungry son of her father’s
employee in Ratnapura. Thus, the inference is inescapable that
renewed attention must be paid to the issue of child protection.
We would be misguiding ourselves if we infer from these
developments that tougher law and order measures alone would
suffice as answers to the problem of child-directed violence. If
some sections are under the impression that childhood happiness
and security are inconsequential things, it is clear that the
issue is closely bound-up with the value structure of adult
The condition of Lankan children could never have been the
same following the conversion of some of them into cannon fodder
by the LTTE in the course of its 30-year long terror campaign
against the state and the people of Sri Lanka. Physical and
emotional abuse of children was always present in our midst to a
degree, but the evil took on the magnitude of an overwhelming
outrage and shame with the brute force the LTTE unconscionably
directed against the children of the North and East.
The LTTE child soldier phenomenon could be described as one
of the worst forms of inhumanity the children of Sri Lanka were
compelled to suffer. That such suffering should never be the lot
of our children, is our wish.
But given the fact that the conflict brutalized sections
within Sri Lanka to an unheard of degree, one should not be
surprised if the savagery of those years continues to linger.
Clearly, it is perverting the relations between some adults and
the children being put in their care.
The government has done well to put the women and children of
this country under the purview of a separate ministry but we
urge that more be done to ensure the physical and emotional
security of these vulnerable sections. Besides, institutions
such as the National Child Protection Authority should be
progressively strengthened to take-up the emerging challenges in
the child protection sphere. The NCPA has been doing a good job
of work but we believe its law enforcement and research arms
should be further bolstered.
Fortunately for Sri Lanka, our Head of State and government,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is one who cares very profoundly
for the young. He points to what needs to be done by the adult
world for the children of this country by talking to the young
for a while every day in the most affectionate fashion.
The adult world needs to take the cue from our President.
Adults who believe they do not have time for their young need to
spend more and more quality time with their youngsters,
showering affection on them and guiding them to lead
ethically-conscious, useful lives. In other words, inasmuch as
law and order measures are needed to blunt the problem of
child-directed violence, more and more care and affection need
to be showered on the young to enable them to experience
emotional security of the most durable kind.