Shayal Devi, Sunday, January 05, 2014, The Fiji Times
CHILDREN have been subjected to intentional physical and mental violence from parents and guardians.
And Empower Pacific, an NGO, says this form of abuse has been "extensively noticeable".
Empower Pacific CEO Patrick Morgam revealed that as a result of such incidents, approximately 114 children and their families received counselling and social work support from Empower Pacific last year.
He said the children were referred to the NGO by the Department of Social Welfare and others.
"Parents don't mean to hurt their children but it is because of anger that they end up hurting them and do not realise what they have done until later on," he said. "We have seen quite a lot of cases coming up so the number of parents intentionally hurting their children has increased."
Mr Morgam stressed there was a need to reduce cases of violence against children. He said predominant referral issues from alternative sources included cases that were domestic violence related, sexual harm, physical harm and neglect.
Aprt from it being extensively noticeable, he said: "Also, the dependency of children and especially traditional beliefs that parents and grown-ups have total rights over children has exposed children to violence."
Mr Morgam said statistics showed a total of 79 families had case plans where children's issues, including medical, education, emotional and child protection issues were being addressed in therapeutic intervention.
"This equates to a total of 187 children."
He believes a lot of abuse cases have not been reported.
"After the emergence of more strict laws and more severe punishment, people are becoming more confident and getting out of their traditional barriers. I also believe that the increased violence against children is also linked to the increase in social problems."
Mr Morgam said children could not do much to protect themselves therefore the responsibility fell on parents and society to create awareness on these issues.
"Organisations such as Empower Pacific can help train parents on anger management, stress management and child protection. We need stricter laws when it comes to children's well being.
"The communities should work together and address these issues during gatherings and create more awareness. Empower Pacific has trained counsellors and social workers who can assist in facilitating community awareness program."
He said parents should be more patient when dealing with children and take lessons on anger management to reduce excessive reactions when angry and develop skills to use anger as a signal to redirect their behaviour.