The Ministry of Justice and Community Services Building at Nambatu, Port Vila (By Sabrina Tabi)

The Child Desk Care under the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS) has recorded a massive increase in the number of violence against children in 2022 compared to 2021.

The total number of cases that the Child Desk Care had received last year was 360 cases.

This more than doubled the number of cases in 2021, which was 141.

Out of the 360 reported cases, 144 of them are girls, and 120 are cases that involved boys.

It has been observed that violence against children happens mainly to female children because most of the perpetrators are male.

The age range of the children affected by the violence is mainly 0- 17 year olds. The Child Desk Care mainly focuses on this age range because children of this age are vulnerable, and are incapable of making decisions on their own.

In other words, they are considered minors.

The type of violence reported ranges from sexual violence, physical abuse, and emotional abuse, to neglect.

According to the Child Social Welfare Coordinator, Tristelle Karae, the increase in the statistics is a result of the fact that more people are now aware that there is a Child Desk Care office available for them to report the cases to, as a lot of awareness has been done lately.

“One of the Child Desk Care’s main task is leading the children’s day program every year…for the last two years, we have been taking that as an opportunity to make awareness and campaigns on radio, newspaper, and social media one week in advance about what the desk is doing,” she said.

Ms Karae added that another reason why there is an increase is because more child protection officers had been appointed and designated to all the provinces in the country.

She explained that before 2021, there were only two provincial child protection officers who were based only on SANMA and SHEFA provinces

But since 2021, two officers have been placed in each province of the country — with the exception of PENAMA and TORBA provinces who for now only has one officer each — thus more awareness had been made and more cases have been reported.