The Minister of Education and Sports also the First Lady, Janet Museveni has raised her voice against the rising child abuse cases in homes during the current period of the COVID-19 lockdown.
She said, on Thursday, that she was forced to come out and address the matter after many reports indicated that the safety of children at home is precarious.
The Minister of ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba first raised the matter on Sunday last week when she said that Government had noted with concern the rising cases of abuse and violence against the children adding that during the peak of the lockdown between March and July, a total of 21,260 cases of child abuse had been reported to police.
Janet expressed concern over children’s safety at home saying that reopening of schools is as well not safe for children due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“We now hear a whole new problem coming from our communities, a new outcry now that the children who are at home are not secure, they are being sexually abused, they are being forced into marriages, they have been abandoned by their families, the children are actually at risk in their homes,” she said.
“For me, I wondered, what else does one do? It has not been possible for us to open schools but it looks like what is important now is to open the schools so that children can just be brought back to provide the security for them from their own homes,” added Mrs Museveni.
She noted that, that is why she resolved to come out and initiate a campaign against abuse of children at home.
“How can that really be when we are thanking God that more families now have two parents, children are not orphaned anymore but that is the time when we are hearing that children are at risk, they are being forced to get married, they are being abused by relatives in their own homes and now people are saying ‘you must open schools’ because the numbers are coming up every day of children who are being abused at home?” she posed.
In the same vein, the Education Minister said that she decided to set Thursday to talk to the children themselves who have become misfits during the lockdown.
“I am now talking to you children who are watching me, youths, you know that the bars were closed. Government has not opened the bars yet but l am told that the youths buy alcohol, bring it to their homes, switch off the lights and then they do all sorts of things in the dark and that is why some of them get pregnant,” the Minister retorted.
“You young people, your lives are yours. You must decide to really take care of your lives. You must have some dreams that you care to see, a future that can stop you from what you are doing and try to do what is right. You must have a conscience. I am appealing to you now, choose to do what is right for your own sake so that your life is saved,” she addressed the young people.
Learning from home
When President Museveni ordered the closure of all education institutions in March, he promised that Government would provide self-study materials to learners at home.
Although, the Education Minister admitted that the program of delivering self-study materials has not been perfect, she said that learning would continue if parents and teachers partnered together with Government.
“That program may not have been perfect, we must accept but if we had the partnership of the parents and the teachers in the villages, that learning could continue.”
She added that Government is endeavoring to send more study materials to the learners at home.
Mrs Museveni also said learners should focus on reading their books instead of running up and down and putting their lives in danger.
“Unfortunately, I cannot tell you when the schools will open, we are all still hoping and waiting but in the meantime, I thought I needed to talk to you about the security and safety of your lives,” she said.
She called on young people to learn to say no to anyone at home with intention of exposing them to any danger. She said children may call the toll-free child help line on 116 for help.
“Don’t allow your life to be destroyed at this time. There is so much ahead of you and you must struggle to see that dream you have in your heart,” she concluded.