Young people in Ghana have appealed to government, parents and the society to take steps to end all forms of violence against them in order to keep every child safe from harm.
The children said all forms of violence against them affected their development and prevented them from reaching their full potentials.
The children made the appeal at the ‘Youth Talks’ programme organised by UNICEF in Accra.
The event was part of UNICEF’s global End Violence Against Children campaign. The campaign is a call to shift policy and mobilise resources to keep every child safe to study.
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Young advocates and children at the ceremony had the opportunity to share their experiences on violence in and around school as well as online.
Although corporal punishment has been banned by the Ghana Education Service (GES), children at the event confirmed that in reality, teachers were still applying harsh discipline.
A youth advocate, Miss Abigail Mamle Teye, said the advocacy against corporal punishment was not about “sparing the rod and spoiling the child”, but for teachers to encourage and motivate rather than use force and harsh punishment.
A Form Three pupil of a basic school in Accra, Deborah, who spoke on verbal abuse recounted an experience where a student tried to commit suicide because she had been verbally abused by a teacher.
She noted that sometimes when a pupil made a mistake in class, it became his or her tag name and that could prevent the victims from attending school.
Deborah appealed to both teachers and parents to stop verbal abuse adding that, “our parents insult us not knowing the effect it has on us.
Please counsel us but don’t insult us when we go wrong.”
Speaking on bullying in schools, Ernest and Benedicta also from a basic school in Accra, called on young people to stop bullying others because it had harmful effects on many stressing that people who bullied others should be punished and the victims counselled.
The Director of the Guidance and Counselling Unit of the GES, Ms Ivy M. Kumi, said it was important for teachers to be at the forefront of the crusade to stop corporal punishment in order to break that cycle permanently.
She said although the GES banned corporal punishment in February last year, she recently witnessed a teacher beating a child because she did not bring an exercise book to school.
The Communication Manager of UNICEF Ghana, Eulette Ewart, congratulated the young people who participated in the programme for sharing their stories.