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UNICEF wants to Completely Abolish Corporal Punishment

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been championing the cause of children to ensure that children’s rights and needs are being met. Paulette Wade, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist of UNICEF, spoke to Love News about some of the accomplishments here in Belize.

Paulette Wade – Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist of UNICEF

“I even have through UNICEF supported three rounds of what we call the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2006, 2011 and now in 2015 and if you were to watch the trend in each of those areas that you have been speaking about you would see that there have been positive changes throughout. When we look at children, for UNICEF it’s from 0-18, however, when we decided on our response we have divided our response into two decades in order we look at children 0-9 and then we look at children from 10-19 because the needs of these children are different. In 2011 when we looked at the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey there were some key things that came out. We need to pay more attention to early childhood development because children who access early childhood education was very low 38%. We needed to spend some time addressing breastfeeding because if we feel that that is the first start for children then there has to be more emphasis for advocacy for women to exclusively breastfeed and so looking at those earlier years and those are the prerequisites for good development, if you exclusively breastfeed you already know that you have a greater chance of staying in school and because you have the cognitive brain development. UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health in certifying hospitals as baby friendly so the hospitals had to put different things in place to ensure that mothers who accessed the health system, pregnant women who access the health system understand the importance of breastfeeding, that they are really educated and it’s a great advocacy for them to breastfeed their child. And so in 2011, we had 14% of women who are exclusively breastfeeding when we did the MICS in 2015 that number doubled to 33% so we see where the investment really changed people’s mentality of exclusive breastfeeding even for the men and women. For early childhood development it’s the same positive progress from 33% who had access to early childhood to now its 54% which means that there had to be investments in early childhood development and I think the Minister of Education did say that one of the key focus for his government and interest is in early childhood development because an early start is better for the development of the child instead of trying to put corrective measures to ensure that children are at their right developmental stage.”

The law to ban corporal punishment was passed in February 2010; however, it did not come into effect until September 2011.  Wade said that UNICEF also hopes to see corporal punishment abolished within the homes.

Paulette Wade – Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist of UNICEF

“Child protection in terms of discipline has been some issue. As the Caribbean as a whole, we feel that it’s wrong to spare the rod and spoil the child and so even though corporal punishment has been abolished in schools in homes it’s still perpetrated. In the MICS it shows that there was a reduction in terms of parents who used very violent discipline however what increased was the severe punishment, so yes they understand that they should wait for a little but I think for some reason or the other when they wait then when they really punish the child it becomes extreme so that is something that we need to work on. The data also shows us that the children between the ages of 3 and 4 experience the most severe punishment and you know as a mother children around this age are very fidgety and like to touch and break things and so we need to look at parenting.”

Wade said that UNICEF is working with the National Committee for Families and Children to find alternatives to corporal punishment. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, made an announcement, this month, in Jamaica’s parliament that he wants to see corporal punishment banned in the entire society in order to make Jamaica a better place for children.  Holness made reference to a report from UNICEF entitled “A Familiar Face: Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents” and said the report confirmed that a large number of Jamaican children are subjected to violent discipline, or sexual violence or they are dying violently.