Over forty participants drawn from local authorities, child protection agencies, including school authorities and government functionaries converged at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, SLAJ Secretariat, last weekend for a day’s interactive advocacy workshop on the theme: “Promote Children’s Rights to Protect their Future.”
The Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Dr. Soccoh Kabia, in his keynote address emphasized on the legislations and the welfare and protection of children in terms of education, health and development, pointing out that Media Alliance for Children is key in highlighting and promoting the issues of children to ensure that they are educated and perpetrators of children’s crime are punished.
The Minister of Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, spoke on the effect of the environment on the growth and access to education for children. He implored Media Alliance for Children to undertake programmes that are consistent with the bringing up of children in an accepted manner.
UNICEF Communication Officer, Lomiah Nlango said UNICEF is committed to promoting the best interests of the child in areas of health, education, development and child protection. She emphasized the need for media reporting to be concentrated on the rights of the child.
She commended Media Alliance for Children, saying it is one of the important partners of UNICEF. “Reporting stories on women and children brings closer attention and awareness to their plights and successes in the face of adversity,” she maintained.
A Lecturer at Fourah Bay College, Mr. Pat Lewis acknowledged that the media’s portrayal of child abuse and child protection can have negative consequences for children and their families, but was also quick to state that media coverage is vital if public concern for children is to remain on the political agenda, and also if child protection services are to remain accountable.
The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Umaru Fofana added his voice by saying that the laws governing the protection of children are good but not properly implemented, “as there is no protection for child victims”.
Giving an overview of the workshop, the National Coordinator, Media Alliance for Children, Ibrahim Karim-Sei said the workshop is about advocacy on behalf of the children, particularly the vulnerable ones in society. He said the workshop will be replicated in the three provincial cities of Bo, Makeni and Kenema.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.