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Child abuse and neglect is being reported from all parts of the country at an alarmingly increasing rate. Data from the Women’s and Children’s Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police and hospital based data corroborates this fact. Hence there was a need within the country for all stakeholders to unite to formulate and effective response when an incident is reported.

There was also a need to plan out an effective campaign to prevent child abuse and neglect. The Child Protection Committee of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians together with Plan Sri Lanka embarked on the project titled ‘Creating Safe Communities for children.

This project has two objectives:
1.    Better management of Victims of child abuse and neglect
2.    Prevention of child abuse and neglect

 

 

Better management of Victims of child abuse and neglect

The management of victims of child abuse and neglect is essentially multi-sectoral. Hence the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians and Plan Sri Lanka invited all stake holders to several workshops and meetings to develop a guideline for the management of victims.

The following Professional bodies, Ministries and Departments were involved in the process:
1. College of Forensic Pathologists of Sri Lanka
2. Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists
3. The Medico-Legal Society of Sri Lanka
4. The Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs – The National Child Protection Authority and the Department of probation and child care services
5. The Ministry of Justice
6. The Attorney General’s Department
7. The Women’s and Children’s Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police
8. Ministry of Education

The final document titled ‘National Guideline for the management of Child Abuse and Neglect: A Muti-sectoral Approach’ was launched by the then Minister of Health, Hon. Maithripala Sirisena on 4 December, 2013 at the BMICH.

It was decided by all stakeholders to pilot this in the Gamapaha District. The launch of this pilot project took place on 25 September 2014. After the launch doctors in the Gampaha District were introduced to the guideline at a workshop held the same day. The National Guideline has now being translated to Sinhala and Tamil. These will be printed soon. The other stakeholders like the probation officers, police etc will be introduced to the guideline soon.
 

The Lama Piyasa –A place where abuse ends and healing begins

One it was felt that one of the issues in dealing with victims of child abuse and neglect in health institutions was the issue of confidentiality and sensitive management of the victims and the families. At present the victims are admitted to different wards in health institutions. Some pregnant teenagers are admitted to Gynaecology wards as they cannot be admitted to paediatric wards. This leads to several issues for the children as they are housed in adult wards.

During the formulation of the guideline, it was felt that there was a need for a facility to admit all child victims (0-18 years), until their immediate needs are sorted out and for planning further management. The Ministry of Health accepted the concept of ‘Safe Houses’ in Health Institutions throughout the country. As part of the project Creating Safe Communities for children the Sri Lanka College of Paediaticians and Plan Sri Lanka together with the Director of the North Colombo Teaching Hospital designed a Safe House – ‘Lama Piyasa.’ Approval for the project was obtained from the Ministry of Health and the foundation laying ceremony was held on 27 November 2013, at the Ragama Rehabilitation Hospital. There are two sections in this facility of child victims - A ward for in-house management and a video recording unit.

The video recording unit will ensure that the evidence of the child victims admitted to the Lama Piyasa would be recorded for the purpose of submitting to courts. This will reduce the traumatization of the child victims in courts. The Attorney General’s Department has inspected the unit during the process of building and suggestions made were incorporated. The National Child Protection Authority has consented to partner with the consultants of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama in the to ensure the proper functioning of this unit

The ‘Lama Piyasa’ is now completed and will be ceremonially opened on 9 March 2015.
 

Prevention of child abuse and neglect

To meet the second objective of the overall project ‘A Project for the Protection of Children from Abuse, Exploitation, Violence and Neglect,’ was designed.

A booklet was compiled by the child protection committee of the SLCP titled ‘Let’s protect our children from abuse and neglect.’ Printing of this booklet was sponsored by Airtel as part of their corporate social responsibility. It was officially launched at the Annual Academic Sessions of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians in August 2012. The book has now being translated into Sinhala and Tamil and will be disseminated in the Gampaha District during the pilot project.

Posters for the prevention of child abuse and neglect were also designed by the members of teh child protection committee of the Sri lanka College of Paediatricians with key messages for parents and children. As part of their corporate social responsibility GlaxoSmithKline took over the task of printing and distributing these posters to schools, hospitals, police stations etc., throughout the country. The posters were launched at the launch of the Creating Safe Communites project on 4 December 2013, by the then Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs Hon. Tissa Karaliyadda.
 

 

The members of the Child Protection Committee of Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians

1.    Prof. Asvini D Fernando
2.    Prof. Harendra de Silva
3.    Dr. Kalyani Guruge
4.    Prof. Wasantha Karunasekera
5.    Prof. Sujeew Aamarasena
6.    Dr. Manel Fernando
7.    Dr. Lilanthi de Silva
8.    Dr. Samantha Waidyanatha
9.    Dr. Shanthini Ganeshan
10.   Dr. Sriyan Fernando
11.   Dr. Anoma Weerasinghe
12.   Dr. Geetha Sathyadas
13.   Dr. Ranmali Rodrigo

This is how this journey came across to the success, where we are now today.
A child victim presenting to the system in any part of the country should receive a holistic management. Therefore the need of the national guideline on management of the victim of child abuse and neglect was recognized. The roles of each of the health specialities were identified, co-ordinated between specialities and were strengthened.

Get in Touch

Creating Safe Communities for Children
Wijerama house, No 06, Wijerama Mawatha,
colombo 07, Sri lanka
Tel : +94 112 960101
E : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
W: cscc.lk

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