Friday, July 23, 2010


Jakarta, July 23, 2010 (ANTARA) - It was a celebration for around 25,000 children participating in a National Children`s Day 2010 function at the Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park (TMII), eastern Jakarta, Friday.

The children, mostly kindergarten, elementary and junior high school students from Jakarta and surrounding areas, enjoyed dancing, singing and other activities at the Children`s Palace as well as other stands at TMII at the function which was also attended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono.

But, on the occasion of Children`s Day, the National Commission for Children`s Protection issued data showing that 1,826 cases of violence against children were recorded across the country from January to May 2010.

"The number of cases of violence against children, especially physical and sexual violence, has increased. In the first five months of 2010 alone, there were 1,826 cases," Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Children`s Protection, said in Jakarta Thursday (July 22).

In 68 percent of the sexual harassment cases the perpetrators were close relatives, he said.

In 2009, there were 1,891 cases of violence against children, up from 1,626 cases in 2008, according to data from the Commission.

He considered such as a condition reflected the failure of families in protecting their children. There were even cases where a parent burned his/her own baby, and a mother breaking her own five-month-old baby`s hand and leg, he said.

"It`s a social crisis and the violence does not make sense. Those who committed the violence were the ones supposed to protect the children," he said.

Children who are prone to violence are street children and children from middle- and low-income families, according to Sirait.

According to the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM), of the total of 17 million children in Indonesia, 22 percent live in the streets.

And data from the Social Affairs Ministry showed the number of children with social welfare problems (0-18 years old) in Indonesia has reached 4,656,913.

There were 230,000 street children and 5.4 million abandoned ones in Indonesia in 2006, but now the figures had dropped to 147,000 and 4.8 million respectively.

Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf al Jufri in a dialogue with participants of a workshop on child welfare last April said the government was soon to issue a Presidential Instruction (Inpres) as the legal basis for concrete action to protect children in the country.

The Inpres would be the legal basis for the launching of a national child protection movement, he said.

In fact, the Social Affairs Ministry has launched a program to make Jakarta "street-children-free" by 2011 by setting up more child care centers.

For the nation`s children protection, Herlini Amran, a legislator from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), called for the strengthening of agencies such as the National Commission for Children, the National Commission for Children`s Protection and the Children`s Affairs Directorate.

"At present, millions of Indonesian children, are powerless. Most of them are even in the streets to beg, sing for money or steal," Amran said commenting on National Children`s Day 2010.

The National Children`s Day should not only be observed ceremonially but be filled with concrete actions, she said.

Children needed protection, not only for their bodies, but also for their intellect and morality, she said.

"There are many children who have no access to education as there is still discrimination and restrictions against poor children," she said.

On a separate occasion, Acting Director of World Vision Indonesia Amelia Merrick said the National Children`s Day momentum should be used to remind all components of the public about the importance of fulfilling Indonesian children`s rights to education, health, nutrition, guidance and protection.

From Makassar, South Sulawesi, Muh Gufron, Secretary of the South Sulawesi Children Protection Foundation, said that the central and regional governments have not yet worked optimally to respect children`s rights.

"Fulfilling the basic rights of children needs serious and consistent attention of the government," Gufron said Friday.

In his speech marking National Children`s Day at the TMII event, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on all circles along with the government to take concrete action in the protection of the rights of children to promote their condition and quality.

"Protecting children means protecting them against many kinds of criminal offenses like violence, exploitation, discrimination, neglect, unfair treatment, and bad companionship," the President said.

He also said that the government will continue protecting children and meeting their right. The ministry of empowerment of women and child protection in the present cabinet, he said, must find ways to make sure that all these are realized.

Yudhoyono emphasized that children`s education starts at home and parents should understand this well.

"I would like to say that children`s education starts at home, because parents are the main educators to mold their children`s character and behavior to ensure a better future for them," the President said.

"Although most parents are busy in this modern era, it does not diminish their responsibility to build their children`s intellect, character, and curiosity," the president said.

President Yudhono at the peak event attended also by National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh, Women`s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amelia Sari, Jakarta Vice Governor Prijanto and a number of other cabinet ministers, also launched a Love the Children Movement.

Themed "Indonesian Children Study for The Future", the peak event of National Children`s Day also featured a mass painting program involving 6,600 children on the theme of "Green Indonesia" which was expected to break a MURI record, Iwang Sutisna of the event`s organizing committee, said earlier.

National Children`s Day was actually observed starting July 19 with activities involving students, disabled and street children, he said.

On July 20, the education ministry took some 66 children to the news rooms of TV One and state-run television station TVRI to observe the work processes there.

A Children`s Sympathy Day was organized at the Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle, the heart of Jakarta, where children distributed flowers to passers-by.
(T.F001/A/F001/A/A014) 23-07-2010 21:09:40

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