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MOOC PCH1x | Communities as Lead Actors for Child Protection I Lamin

– Communities lead actors, and they have the resources
to care for children because communities are all about children, and children are all about communities. Let us start with the
understanding of the word “child”. In communities in Sierra Leone,
a child means the future. A child means what you leave behind. And what you leave behind
is prized possession. It’s the continuity, it’s what you have worked
for all of your life. It is a continuation of
the community itself. So the value placed around
children is very huge. In communities in Sierra
Leone, everyone is responsible for bringing up children. And everyone contributes
to bringing up children. The traditions, you know,
builds around children. And there are different
traditions that ensure that children are brought
up in a very protected way. There is a lot of misunderstanding around some of these traditions, but I think it is
important to clarify them. If you look at the justice system, it protects children and ensures that they are not held responsible for things that they do, but there is the community responsibility for what children do. So this means that children
are not being isolated. Children are not being
treated in ways that will permanently hinder their
development and growth. But it is communities that decide how children can be corrected
when there are issues. In Sierra Leone, if
someone fails to care for his or her children, every member of the community has a right to report it to the chief. They have the responsibility
to care for the children until such a time when the issue between the parent and
child or children, you know, is being well-mediated. This ensures that children
are not neglected at any time. If, you know, we think
the extended family, one of the reasons why we
have such large families is to ensure that there are always adults
who will care for children when they lose their biological parents. And that is a strong value; we have seen how it has helped
many children over time, helping them access services, especially for education, for health, and for justice. Also, in all communities there
are natural leaders. There are people who have responsibility for protecting children. When the child has a problem, they can run to any adult, and that adult is obliged and that adult has a
responsibility to ensure that nothing bad happens to the child, and the adult also has the
obligation and responsibility to address the problem that
the child is running away from. These are all measures within communities to ensure that children are protected, and they are not exposed to harm, and they are not exposed to bad treatment from adults. So with some of these
mechanisms in place, with the, the responsibility that
is shared by everyone, communities are best place to lead when it comes to protection of children, because they understand
what the children need. They have the mechanisms in place. They have the people who identified to support within families and in the general community. That makes them the best
people to lead in interventions that promotes protection of children.

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