At a just concluded National Youth summit hosted by Search for Common Ground (SFCG), SLYEO and Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), the recommendation report states that violence is more frequent in homes.
Held at Kona Lodge along King Street in Freetown, and with support from the European Union, children and youths from various parts of the country met for two days to discuss the way forward on how to address violence among children and youths.
Prior to the national curriculum summit, a regional summit was organised in Bo, Kenema, and Makeni where young people were selected to be part of a research exercise to have a one on one with their peers on the various forms of violence.
In an overview of the summit, SFCG Country Director, Joseph Sankaituah, stated that the “engaging children and youth as partners in preventing violence against children” project is a regional programme implemented in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea since 2014, with support from the European Union.
In Sierra Leone, Mr Sankaituah said the project mobilized 25 young people and children and trained them as young researchers to go out and engage their peers to identify the worst forms of violence against children and youth.
He said the exercise was very impressive that inspired the young researchers and gave them the confidence that they can also contribute to generating knowledge that proffers solutions.
The SFCG Country Director furthered that the cross section of practitioners and policy makers in the child protection sectors will help review and solicit feedbacks on the outline of the draft toolkit.
A representative from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs lauded the efforts of the project implementers, noting that children and youth are both victims and perpetrators of violence which over the years has increased.
He said youth violence is a huge challenge not only for parents and guardians, but for the Government and law enforcement agencies, therefore bringing them together to discuss issues affecting them and finding solutions to the problem is a step in the right direction.
Susan Kargbo from the Children’s Commission confessed that children are not given the opportunity to be part of decision making process that involves their development, and as a result policy makers develop programmes that do not really go deep into the root cause, such as violence among children and youth, a problem that is still a challenge at all levels in society.
She assured the summit of government’s continued strides to live up to the African Charter as well as the UN Convention on the rights of a child.
Representing the European Union, Josephus Ellie, noted that the summit aims at discussing the way forward to stop violence against young people, and for them not to engage in violent acts.
He maintained that a democratic state cannot succeed with high rate of violence in society, therefore appropriate networks need to be formed amongst young people in order to raise the awareness to prevent violence at all levels.
In his keynote statement, Youth Commissioner, Anthony Koroma, commended the European Union for complimenting government’s effort in addressing youth and violence, an issue which some treat with levity.
He said he was delighted to be part of the national summit and has no doubt that the implementers of the programme will encourage young people to bring out the issues affecting them, which makes them resort to violence as an alternative.
Mr Koroma noted that the time is now for young people to decide their destiny, by being part of decision making for them to make informed choices in their development.
He stressed that there is no big or small violence, whether political, peer or domestic, young people should start to rethink and put an end to violence.
The Youth Commissioner disclosed that he was delighted that young people were involved in the research, which was very critical and it came out clear that violence in the home is more frequent, and it is continuing unnoticed which is a bad recipe for both children and young people.
During group work, CCYA’s Executive Director, Thomas Ngollo Katta encouraged young people to critically look at the findings of the research before making recommendations, which will serve as a toolkit for policy makers and the child protection sector. [Awoko]