Wanita MCA: Don’t vent pandemic-related frustration on children

PETALING JAYA: Parents and guardians must not vent their frustration on children, even as uncertainties from the pandemic are starting to take a toll on their mental health, says Wanita MCA.

Wanita chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said children as well as those who are defenceless should be spared the brunt even as society is facing severe strain from Covid-19.

“For some, the uncertainties have taken a toll on mental health. However, do not use minors as convenient literal punching bags simply because they are physically smaller and weaker in size,” she said in a statement yesterday.

She also described as alarming the statement by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun that an average of 17 children were abused daily from January to April this year.

Thirty-five per cent of the 2,040 cases reported involved neglect, while almost 30% were victims of physical and sexual abuse, with the bulk of the abuse inflicted by their own family members, including parents and guardians.

“These figures are just the reported ones, and it can be safely assumed that they are just the tip of the iceberg. The actual tally of child abuse is higher since not every case will end up being reported to the police or other authorities,” said Heng.

She urged neighbours who hear or witness such abuse to disregard the “mind your own business” mentality as it could make a difference to a child’s long-term well-being, and in some cases, may be a matter of life or death.

“Not all child abuse cases are caused by adults affected by the various movement control orders. Some adults simply torture youngsters for no apparent reason.

“Due to the various MCOs, classrooms have gone online. However, if teachers are able to spot any suspicious bruises, and the child is reluctant or fearful to speak, do try to contact the child individually.

“Gain the student’s trust to confide and then subsequently inform the authorities,” she said, adding that children in welfare or care homes should also not be forgotten.

“Besides orphanages, the authorities also need to look into possible cases of disabled children in care homes who are just as susceptible to physical and sexual abuse by their carers, because in their extra incapacity, they are left completely defenceless.

“Functioning CCTVs should be made mandatory at all homes for special children to monitor the movements of both the carers and their charges,” said Heng.

She urged anyone in need of counselling or legal advice to approach the Wanita MCA Legal Advisory & Women’s Aid Centre at 03-2716 5943, or Talian Kasih 15999, or to WhatsApp the Social Welfare Department at 019-261 5999, as well as the police and women’s NGO in cases of abuse.

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