Uganda: Children’s Safety Should Be Everyone’s Concern

By Editorial

All death, especially that by violent means, causes immense grief among those who know the deceased. However, the death of an innocent child elicits even more pain and sorrow. This is why the number of stories about children losing their lives in ways that could have been avoided is disheartening and the number worrying.

In yesterday's edition of this newspaper, we published a story of a 12-year-old pupil who had gone missing and four days later, was found dead near a house under construction in Busia Town. He had been kidnapped by unknown assailants under unclear circumstances. The kidnappers demanded millions of shillings from the parents who were unable to raise the amount. Days later, the boy was found dead.

In the same edition was another story about two pupils who were knocked dead by a speeding car at Kitante village in Kalungu. The children, a boy and a girl, were 11 and 10 years old respectively and were on their way to attend a Sunday service when they were knocked down and killed.

There have been other incidents of children losing their lives due to neglect, abuse, torture and other ways. The Children's Act is "An Act to reform and consolidate the law relating to children; to provide for the care, protection and maintenance of children; to provide for local authority support for children; to establish a family and children court; to make provision for children charged with offences and for other connected purposes." The Act, in Part II Section 5 sub-section 1, states that "it shall be the duty of a parent, guardian or any person having custody of a child to maintain that child... that duty gives a child the right to-- education and guidance; immunisation; adequate diet; clothing; shelter; and medical attention. The Act also states that local governments should safeguard children.

It is important, therefore, that those who have caused the death of children are brought to book. Leaving the perpetrators to go scot-free or to pay bribes to the relevant authorities will see more children lose their lives. For us not to go back to the days when child sacrifice was rampant in the country, the security organs - right from the local council to higher levels - should unite to ensure that children are safe.

It is also important that communities are educated on the rights of children, including reporting those who are abusing them. Our children need to live in a safe environment. Just because they cannot express themselves as well as adults does not mean they are not entitled to safety.

Source: All Africa