ICT Minister Judith Nabakooba has warned parents over their relaxity that has resulted into the increased cases of child abuses to a whopping 21260 cases in just four months.
“As government, we have noted with concern the rising cases of abuse and violence involving children.
Since COVID-19 lockdown in March and the subsequent closure of schools, there has been a growing pattern of abuse and domestic violence targeting children at home.”Nabakooba said.
She noted that during the peak of the lock down between March, April, May and the Months of June and July, a total of twenty one thousand two hundred sixty cases of child abuse were reported to police, (21,260).
“Out of these more than half of them involved situations of children being abused from home.Whereas we acknowledge that COVID-19 has deeply affected everyone, the abuse and violence being faced by children in the community is not acceptable.”Nabakooba warned.
The ICT minister also pointed out that there are a number of reports showing an increase in child marriage. These cases involve underage girls being sold off into marriage in exchange for money and other commodities.
“We are seeing an increase in cases of defilement and rape. In some of these cases, the culprits abusing children are parents and close family members. Government has noted with the concern the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies in communities across the country. In some of the cases, both the girl and boy are under age.”she said.
Looking at the statistics on child abuse since the COVID-19 period in March, some of the areas with highest number of cases include Kamuli, Gulu, Naggalama, Kiryandongo and the Jinja Road policing areas in Kampala.
Nabakooba also warned that the closure of schools should never be an excuse to violate the rights of children and expose them to any form of sexual abuse.
“As government we call upon all parents, care givers and community members to rise up to their responsibilities and ensure that children are safe all the time.They must be protected at the time and most especially during this time when schools are still closed.” She pointed out.
She said children are going through a difficult time being out of school and therefore they need a lot of care and love, support and guidance. Parents should create time, talk with the children and explain the current situation rather than resorting to violence.
She further called upon all community members to report any case of violence, abuse or exploitation of children.
“This can be reported through the traditional community structures or local law enforcement agencies such as police or local council.”she said.
“It is our responsibility to ensure children continue to learn while out of school by giving them access to the learning materials distributed by government.Parents and caregivers should reach out to their local leaders and ensure that they receive the learning materials.” She added.