At least thirty five participants, mainly youths from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, who attended a just ended two-day conference in Monrovia, have recommended to their respective governments to involve them in preventing violence against youth and children.
They said in a prepared statement released at the end of the seminar that the three governments must provide support to end violence against children.
In their recommendations, the delegates said the active participation of children and youth in preventing violence can be fostered through peer awareness and peer education in their communities, through drama and radio programs to raise awareness about the Children’s Act and impacts of violence against children.
The event was held under the theme “Engaging Children and Youth as Partners in Preventing Violence against Children.”
The workshop was implemented by the non-governmental agency Search for Common Ground (SFCG), along with the Young Men’s Christian Association of Liberia (YMCA), with funding from the European Union.
According to the participants, the three governments should create safe playing areas for children in communities where they can play under the supervision of community members and community-based child protection institutions such as Child Welfare Committees (CWC).
The three governments should also monitor child trafficking and child labor cases and also ensure that CWCs play a leading role in identifying child labor cases in their communities, as well as tracing trafficked children through cooperation with Child Welfare Officers at the county level, the group said.
“We must raise awareness within families on alternative methods to violent discipline at home and schools. Parent-children dialogue should be promoted and any crime against children such as rape and other sexual offenses should be reported to the police,” the youths said in their statement.
The youths further recommended to their respective governments to provide financial means to assist the women and children’s protective sections of the Liberia National Police with vehicles to reach remote areas.
They indicated that coordination between hospitals, police and NGOs should be reinforced through training and financial support.
In cases of rape, they recommended a complete protection system to be provided to victims; that more awareness should be undertaken at the community level, targeting traditional leaders, town chiefs and CWCs on early marriage, teenage pregnancy and prosecution of rape cases.
They further urged the Ministry of Gender to raise funds to organize workshops on the Children’s Law and child protection mechanisms targeting traditional leaders, town chiefs and CWCs.
Schools free of violence should be available for all children from 6-16 and education should take measures to ensure that positive codes of conduct be displayed in visible areas in every school, the recommendations stated.
The youths also disclosed that NGOs working with youths should empower them to peacefully solve conflicts.