KOTA KINABALU: There is a grave fear that teen pregnancy and abortion will become a norm in society soon if nothing is done to prevent it, says (pic left) Dr Pamela Yong of the Sabah Women and Children’s Hospital (formerly Likas Hospital).
“If nothing is done to prevent this from happening, youths will start to think that there is nothing wrong with having sex and aborting the babies because they see it in TV and films all the time.
“However, baby dumping is only one of the aspects of child abuse. Last year alone we have had close to 150 reported cases in the Likas Hospital alone. This is very alarming,” said Dr Yong.
She said this during a press conference held here, yesterday, to announce a series of events and activities which will be organized in conjunction with the World Day for Prevention of Abuse and Violence against Children and Youth, yesterday and Universal Children’s Day, today.
According to Dr Yong, many have heard of the term “child abuse” but many thinks it only boils down to rape and violence. However there are seven types of abuse in total, she said.
“The seven types of abuse include emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse the three which are more commonly known and reported. However, there are also other forms of abuse which are supervision neglect, physical neglect, medical neglect and abandonment.
“An example for supervision neglect would be when people leave their children in the car under the hot sun while they do their groceries – that is considered as an abuse. When people deprive their children of proper clothing and shelter that is considered physical neglect,” she explained.
“We want to push for long term and holistic solutions to address this problem,” said Datuk Agnes Shim, who heads the Federation of the Chinese Associations Sabah’s Women’s Bureau (Education and Welfare Sub-Committee).
She said the project, dubbed the Stop It Now! Prevent Child Abuse Campaign, is held in conjunction with the World Day for Prevention of Abuse and Violence Against Children and Youth yesterday and the Universal Children’s Day today, Nov 20.
The event, she added, is also made possible with the collaboration of the Likas Women and Children’s Hospital’s Board of Visitors, the United Youth Movement of Malaysia and the Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s School of Social Sciences’ Communications Club.
“As far as baby dumping is concerned, Sabah ranks third in the country with 75 cases reported from 2005 to mid-May this year. This could be related to the high cases of children born out of wedlock where the state tops nationally with an alarming figure of 41,470 cases,” said Shim.
Last year at the Likas Women and Children’s Hospital alone, slightly below 150 cases of child abuse were reported and the figure tripled compared to the figure in 2009.
“This, itself, is alarming as it is estimated that only 10 per cent of cases are reported. We believe there is an urgent need to stir more awareness amongst the public about child abuse and that it must be understood that it is no longer just a family problem, it is an issue that involves the society as a whole,” she said.
Shim said considering the situation today, strengthening family and moral values, as well as healthy reproductive education are the way forward.
“We must empower our children to protect themselves from any form of abuse and to seek for help when needed. Most important is for our young girls to appreciate their self-worth … these girls must be taught that they should not ‘give’ themselves in to a man just to show their love, they have to protect their dignity and pride.
“As for the men, they must learn that it is wrong to treat women as just sex object,” said Shim.
She said part from teaching the young, the more mature society or adults must also learn to recognise the warning signs of abuse and neglect so that appropriate actions can be taken before further harm is done and the child is protected.
“We feel that child abuse can only be effectively prevented by mobilising adults, families and communities to take action.
“The campaign aims at bringing to light the alarming and escalating problem of child abuse inclusive of baby dumping as well as its multifaceted aspects, and to generate sufficient grassroots interest, government and public support for better prevention measures,” she said.