KUALA LUMPUR: The new Child Development Department will complement the Child Protection Team and Child Welfare Team formed under the Child Act 2001 in some 105 districts across the country, says Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said the Child Development Department replaced the Children’s Section under the Social Welfare Department effective Sept 1.
“The Child Development Department has approved 169 contract staff for 2023 to strengthen its foundation at the headquarters and district levels.
“This ensures the department provides effective and professional service to better protect children’s safety and welfare.
“Many thanks to the Public Service Department and the Finance Ministry for approving the creation of this department,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Announced under Budget 2023 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also the Finance Minister, on Feb 24, it is the best solution to tackle child abuse issues which had been rampant of late, said Nancy.
“The department will provide child services based on five pillars: prevention, development, protection, recovery and re-integration into society,” she added.
When asked about the Social Welfare Department’s recent findings that 2,959 child abuse cases had been reported between January and May this year, Nancy said the number was high because more people are confident in seeking out the department’s child protection services.
“People were scared to file complaints before but now are more brave in doing it.
“We want to teach children their rights and educate parents and adults around them what they can and can’t do against them,” she said during the Child Protection Advocacy Programme: Kasih Kanak-Kanak Kuala Lumpur.
Her ministry is also reviewing the Child Act 2001 and will present its findings in Parliament in the future.
Among the points being reviewed are the punishment for sexual harassment cases.
“The punishment against sexual harassment cases was previously too light and didn’t scare predators enough.
“However, the ministry’s discussion is ongoing and hasn’t concluded yet,” said Nancy.
Separately, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said her ministry had launched anti-bullying and sexual harassment guidelines to protect children’s well-being.
“These guidelines are important as they involve strict rules and measures to protect the mental and physical well-being of children,” she said during the Child Protection Advocacy Programme.
“More counselling teachers will be added in both primary and secondary schools to help students better deal with problems.”
She also advised children not to commit acts of bullying, sexual harassment and racism.