NEWS– The Executive Director of National Children Authority Kizza Martin has asked lower local government at the District, Municipality, Town Council and Sub county level to give children issues the priority they deserve.
Kizza Martin made the remarks while officiating at a one day Regional capacity building of lower local government officials on Child Protection and Parental Responsibility Advocacy Campaign at Kirigime Guest House in Kabale Municipality.
The meeting was aimed at creating awareness on the right of the child to be protected from abuse and equip parents, guardians, caregivers and community leaders with the principles, skills and information necessary for the upbringing of the child.
The meeting was attended by selected District Probation officers, women leaders and members of the media from Kisoro, Rubanda, Kabale, Rukiga, Rukungiri and Kanungu Districts.
Kizza said that there is need to strengthen capacity of child protection structures at all levels to provide effective and appropriate child to child friendly services to victims of violence against the children.
He said that parents, guardians, caregivers and the community have got a responsibly to protect the children from all forms of abuse and it’s important they understand their roles.
However, it was noted from the reports presented by the Probation Officers from the respective districts that cases of child abuse are still very high in Kigezi Sub Region coupled with COVID 19 pandemic lockdown.
During meeting, it was established that Kabale District was leading in cases of child abuse between January and July 2021, with 2,628 teenage pregnancies, 312 cases of domestic violence, 256 cases of child neglect, 34 cases of child trafficking, 12 cases of juvenile murder, 76 cases of aggravated defilement, 25 cases of defilement, 20 cases child theft and 35 cases of child labour.
According to Kabale Senior Probation Officers Monica Muhumuza, all the cases were traced from the children families where the parents neglected their responsibilities.
Rukungiri District reported 111 cases of child neglect, 337 cases of domestic violence, 10 cases of juvenile cases and 19 cases of lost and found cases.
In Rubanda District, the Senior Probation Officer Joyce Kenganzi reported that there were 216 cases of child domestic violence, 516 cases of child neglect, 302 cases of defilement, 54 cases of child trafficking and 4 cases of child abandonment.
Kenganzi called for collaborative effort from members of the community, religious leaders and civil society to effectively address the children issues right from the grassroots.
Kisoro District Probation Officer Okuratuhe Alex reported that there are 76 teenage pregnancies, 80 cases of child labour, 190 cases of domestic violence, 120 cases of child neglect, 8 cases of child offenders and 6 cases of abandoned children.
In Rukiga district, 71 cases of teenage pregnancies were reported, 5 cases of child abandonment, one case of child offenders, 50 cases of child neglect and 102 cases of child abuse.
In Kanungu District, 253 cases of child neglect were reported, 42 teenage pregnancies and 115 juvenile offenders were also reported.
All the probation officers lamented that there was little funding for for Child Development issues because there is no direct vote allocation to their office to run the activities.
The meeting was also addressed by Kabale District Education Officer Moses Tumwijukye Bwengye who acknowledged that there is need to have a specific budget to fund children affairs in order to ensure that their issues are well addressed.
He however said that he will personally raise the matter in the District technical support meeting and hope that the district Councilors who allocate budgets consider the urgency for the attention of children issues to be prioritised.
It was also agreed that there should be intergrated service delivery approach to involve the communities into child matters by conducting school dialogues together with the District Education Officers, the District Health Officers, District Community Development Officers, Religious leaders in order to realise the desired results in child parental protection.