School and home should be safe for children: Sarah Jones
National News - Thursday, May 03, 2007
Violence against children has gained considerable attention during the ongoing assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Nusa Dua, Bali. On Wednesday, the IPU and Unicef organized a seminar with actress and Unicef spokesperson Sarah Jones addressing her speech on violence against children in schools and at home. Jones shared her views on the issue with The Jakarta Post's Ridwan Max Sijabat.
Question (Q): What are your thoughts upon hearing about the situation in Indonesia?
Answer (A): Well, I can't speak in my area of expertise on behalf of Unicef, as it is limited to my performance which I shared with Indonesia, but I do know that Unicef has the position in general of dealing with individual countries in uniformity. So my understanding is all about my respect for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and I know something from panelists about the discussion regarding corporal punishment in schools and other forms of violence against children at home.
Indonesia is one of the (countries imposing a penal system on children) and it is also in the process of eliminating it. I don't know how much legislation has been passed, but corporal punishment in schools must be stopped and the rights of children must be continuously campaigned for. School and home must be safe places for children.
Q: What are you doing now as a Unicef spokesperson in the global campaign to eliminate violence against children?
A: I've visited many developed and poor countries to understand the educational conditions there and to campaign for the children's rights convention. Unicef facilitates dialog and consultation with countries on how to guarantee children's access to cheap, but good education.
The book on violence against children (launched today) is designed to help everyone, but particularly to help parliamentarians eliminate all forms of violence against children. But as other speakers have shared with the panel discussion, eliminating violence against children should especially be conducted in schools and at home to give a healthy environment for children to grow up in.
There are different factors in children's lives exposing them to violence. But the book is a practical manual to help improve their situations. And above all, individual countries should play their role (in this educational process).
Unicef has its own mission to raise people's awareness of the facts surrounding rampant violence against children. All forms of violence against children are never ever justifiable.
Q: What is your comment on the Indonesian government's recent decision to have TV stations stop broadcasting smack-down (wrestling) shows?
A: It is a good step, but the government should continue enforcing the law to protect children's rights and to improve their conditions.
The mass media should play its role in its own part to campaign for the rights of children and to help raise public awareness. It should not broadcast movies that expose children to (violence). This problem is common and has surfaced in the United States.
Q: Are you suggesting developed countries stop producing violent movies?
A: Yeah, I think it is very complicated. Producing and consuming countries need to be in partnership to fight for higher values. Both sides should bear in mind that children are very vulnerable to exposure to violence and this has something to do with poverty in the community at large.
All sides, including adults and governments, have a common responsibility to prevent children from being exposed to all kinds of violence and abuses.
In the (third) world, children are easily exposed to violence, abuse, forced labor and transnational crimes. This is why poverty should be alleviated and why children should have access to education at all levels.
Q: What do you want the IPU meeting to do in response to this issue?
A: The IPU meeting is expected to issue a resolution on this and all participants are aware of what they should do, as it is found in the handbook. I think the meeting is held to empower parliaments to encourage their own governments to improve the lives of their people, including children.
Q: Do you have anything to say in observation of National Education Day in the country?
A: This day is a good and appropriate occasion for all Indonesian people to give something to education and children, to eliminate all forms of violence against children, especially the violent penal system in schools and at home, and to better the education system.
I am bringing my personal message to all Indonesian children, especially students, to use the education opportunity wisely, to learn as much as they can and to have fun in a smart way.