Ministry pointed to use of cactus symbol in child sex abuse campaign

PETALING JAYA: The use of a cactus as a symbol of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development’s campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse drew scathing comments from rights advocates of the child.

Consultant pediatrician and child rights advocate Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS said the appropriateness of a cactus was questionable despite the campaign’s good intentions.

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“Describing the child protection community as ‘thorns’ is an odd metaphor, while telling children to stand firm and be strong in the face of horrific crime is not the appropriate message to send.

“Most countries that have launched similar campaigns use more appropriate and meaningful images with direct messages that make it easier for children to understand the purpose of the campaign immediately upon viewing them.

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“The cactus symbol is unclear and requires detailed explanation, which makes it difficult to engage the public with such an indistinct symbol,” Dr. Amar said.

Child rights activist and president of the Suriana Welfare Society, James Nayagam, said the five-pointed cactus symbol was too vague, making it difficult for children to find meaning in the symbol at a glance. ‘eye.

“Unless an older person is there to explain it in depth, the cactus is essentially meaningless to the young people it’s trying to reach.

“Obviously whoever came up with the idea had little or no knowledge of the whole issue,” he said, adding that from a young child’s perspective, he would be hard to associate a cactus with protection against sexual abuse.

James also criticized an apparent lack of oversight to assess the effectiveness of such campaigns.

“Raising awareness of this issue is nothing new and has been done repeatedly almost every year with seemingly little success as the rate of child sexual abuse only seems to be on the rise.

“While awareness campaigns are nice on the surface, there needs to be a more practical and comprehensive approach to developing detailed strategies to tackle child sexual abuse crimes.

“Beyond the experts, it is essential to include young people and children in the discussions because they offer a direct perspective on the most effective solutions.

“They (the ministry) also need to monitor and report on the effectiveness of solutions to the public because people have a right to know how their money is being spent,” James said, adding that parents and their children need to be educated about it as well. the question. .

James V. Hayes