Speech Delivered by Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip on Universal Day Rights of the Child in Concordia, French side

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Good morning
This morning we are gathered here to commemorate the International Day of the Rights of the child, which over the years have been engraved in the calendar of events for the world at large and for many years the north and south sides of the island, our neighboring islands Anguilla , Saba and St. Eustatitius have always come together to commemorate such.

This in itself is an indication of how seriously we take the fact that our children have rights and those rights need to be protected and so the theme for this year is a very fitting and urgent theme which we all need to take seriously.
In our society as a result of how we have historically and culturally viewed discipline as a core value that we want our children to have, we have come to think of child abuse to be soley consisting of beatings and bruising but I want to bring to you attention and consciousness that Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones.
While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious.
Ignoring children's needs, putting them in unsupervised, d dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse.
Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.
In our society we have managed to believe several myths about child abuse for example
MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to notice it or intervene.
MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.
Fact: While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children, it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don't know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.
MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in "good" families.
Fact: Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
MYTH #4: Most child abusers are strangers.
Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are close family members.
MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.
Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
We must realize that all types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars.
Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child's sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school.

Some effects include:
• Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. I
• Core feelings of being "worthless" or "damaged." If you've been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings.
• Trouble with expressing emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways.

And so today as we bring the focus on all forms of child abuse we say it is our collective responsibility as teachers , parents, social workers ,youth leaders ,the church and youth organizations, children themselves to take a stand and say we will no longer allow and tolerate
Child neglect
Physical child abuse
Emotional child abuse, name calling and bullying
Sexual abuse of children
Domestic violence being witnessed by children.
Children living in conditions where there is Alcohol and drug abuse.
Children living in conditions where their parents are suffering from mental illness.
Bullying
Maltreatment of those living with physical emotional and other disabilities.

We cannot turn a blind eye! With every resource we have we must stamp it out !
I will like to end by reminding one and all that
The world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential, and as country, we must committed to this. We must do our part
To one and all I would therefore like to wish you all Happy International day of the Rights of the child.

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