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VPA encourages dialogue on strengthening families, child safety

Published:Friday | October 9, 2020 | 12:09 AM
Dr Elizabeth Ward, chair, Violence Prevention Alliance.
Dr Elizabeth Ward, chair, Violence Prevention Alliance.

Professor Elizabeth Ward, chair of the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), is urging organisations involved in peace dialogues to include family strengthening and child-safety provisions in their discussions and agreements.

She made the recommendation while addressing the Manchester Peace Coalition Civic Ceremony for World Peace Day on September 21, which was observed under the theme ‘Shaping Peace Together’.

“As we meet as stakeholders, representatives of civil society, we must acknowledge the ills being faced in society, affecting our parish, use the data to guide accordingly, and form/strengthen partnerships for catalysing action. Close association and opportunities to strengthen ability of families to better safeguard children must be seized,” she pointed out.

Ward said that this approach is more important now in light of the vulnerability of children as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

“Recent research is showing that the home may not be safe for many families who experience domestic violence as it impacts both intimate partners and children. COVID-19 has caused major economic devastation, disconnected many from community resources and support systems, and created widespread tensions, uncertainty, and panic,” she said.

“When ‘mouth a mash up’, when quarrels erupt in confined spaces due to lockdown and quarantine, violence in the home spills over into our hospitals,” she added.

The VPA chair said that data showed that before the pandemic, almost a quarter, or 24 per cent, of victims of violence-related injuries seen at the hospitals were 19 years and under. Meanwhile, eight out of 10 children ages two to 14 years experienced some form of violent discipline. Another 30 per cent of students surveyed feared going to school because of bullying.

Dr Clifton Reid, chair of the Manchester Peace Coalition, said the lack of peace continues to be a stumbling block for the successful development of the country.

“The theme for this year’s International Day of Peace, ‘Shaping Peace Together’, provides a grand opportunity to mobilise our people towards a common goal of designing, shaping, and nurturing peace,” he said.