Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

World Bank: Malaysia doing well, but can do better in terms of children’s health.

Thursday, October 11th, 2018
 Firas Raad. -filepic

Firas Raad. -filepic

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysia needs to do more to deliver better outcomes in terms of children’s health and learning to boost the incomes of people and country, with returns far into the future, says the World Bank.

“Malaysia performs well but can do even better to achieve higher outcomes given its current level of income and development ambition,” said World Bank Group Representative to Malaysia and Country Manager Firas Raad at the launch of the Human Capital Index (HCI) during the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings held in Bali, Indonesia on Thursday (Oct 11) .

HCI measures the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age of 18, given risks of poor health and education that prevail in the country and the measures include survival, health and schooling.

According to a new release from the World Bank, Malaysia’s overall HCI score is higher than the average for upper-middle income countries and countries in the East Asian and Pacific region.

“A significant proportion of these children, however, suffer from malnutrition with one in five (21%) becoming stunted,” it said.

The education component of the HCI shows that children in Malaysia can expect to complete 12.2 years of school by age of 18, according to the news release.

World Bank said, however, when years of schooling were adjusted for quality of learning, there was only equivalent to 9.1 years, a learning gap of 3.1 years.

Raad said the World Bank was committed to working with Malaysia to make needed and transformative shifts towards better nutrition and learning outcomes among children.

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Do more to stop child abuse

Monday, October 8th, 2018
(File pix) Photo shows a boy having fun at a beach. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), only extreme child abuse cases are reported while some 90 per cent go unreported. Archive image for illustration purposes only. Reuters Photo

THERE are too many child abuse cases in Malaysia. Some 14 cases are reported daily. But many remain beyond the ken of the authorities.

Children with disabilities are especially vulnerable because they cannot do without their caregivers.

And they have little to no chance to report abuses. One child abuse case is one too many. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), only extreme child abuse cases are reported while some 90 per cent go unreported. Just in five months this year, 2,596 cases of child abuse have been reported throughout the country.

Statistics for the remaining seven months may mean more bad news. Violence does not only leave behind physical scars but also causes other impairments that are not so obvious to the eyes. Abused children find it hard to learn or socialise. They withdraw from the world and live in silent torment. What is more dangerous, victims of child abuse become dysfunctional adults and abusive parents themselves.

Pain has staying power. It remains long after the child has forgiven the abuser. The causes of child abuse are numerous and complex. Many of the reported cases point to family breakdown and substance abuse by parents.

Poverty and stress are there in the cause list, too.

Experts tell us that the best way to stop child abuse is to prevent it from happening. We agree. To do this, community heads, school authorities and religious leaders must join hands in a national effort to identify and help at-risk children.

The nature and number of child abuse cases are compelling enough for these eminent members of society to engage in advocacy against all manner of child abuse. People’s attitudes and behaviours need to be changed. Yes, there are laws to curb violence against children. But legislation can only do so much.

Advocacy must reach the hearts and minds of the people. It must help remove the root causes leading to violence. While these preventive measures are undertaken country-wide, we must not forget to put in place measures to help people respond to and monitor child abuse.

Child-friendly reporting procedures are crucial. They must locate centres of child abuse for them to be effective.

Studies show violence mainly happens at home, schools, educational institutions, community settings and care centres. It is at these locations that child-friendly helplines are needed. Reporting procedures should encourage reporting, not place hurdles along the way. A child only has precious minutes to report any abuse. All it needs is a minute for a child to be maimed. Or worse. Procedures that exist are tedious and discourage reporting. Helplines must help, not hamper. The vulnerable sometimes have to be protected from their loved ones. As the New Sunday Times had reported, we are not doing enough to to stop child abuse. We need to do more.

By NST .

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Finish studies, not marriage: UNICEF

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018


Marianne Clark with Shafie during the courtesy call yesterday

KOTA KINABALU: Children should be given the opportunity to finish secondary education rather than engaging in marriage.

Maintaining 18 as the minimum age of marriage, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to Malaysia Marianne Clark Hattingh said legislation alone was not enough.

The move, she said, should also be backed by other measures including support and education on the effects of child marriage particularly on girls.

“(We need) to ensure young people can finish secondary education, sexual reproductive health education and also make communities and families aware of the adverse effects on child marriage – on girl child especially.

“There should also be a social protection system to target children vulnerable to dropping out of school or to child marriage so that marriage is not seen as a solution for teenage pregnancies or poverty,” she said.

She was speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy call to Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal at his office here yesterday.

The issue of child marriage had been making headlines recently particularly following the Sabah Mufti Datuk Bungsu Aziz Jaafar’s proposal for the minimum age of marriage for Muslims to be lowered to 14 and 16 for girls and boys respectively.

Shafie had stated that the government will consider all expert opinions and that the Law and Native Affairs Minister, former Shariah court judge Datuk Aidi Moktar will evaluate every opinion before deciding on the final minimum age limit.

According to Marianne, it was among the issues brought to the discussion with Shafie, who was receptive to the matter.

“He was very receptive to that; he has, as you know, expressed the need to study the issue and to come up with solutions so we’re willing to support that process,” she disclosed.

Other priorities, she said, were issues of undocumented children, facilitating birth registration, access to education especially for remote and indigenous people of Sabah as well as inclusive education for children with disabilities.


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Rethink on stateless kids hailed

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Policy recommendations to address the undocumented children issue in the state is expected to be finalised and presented to the State Government by next year.

United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative for Malaysia, Marianne Clark Hattingh, said the policy recommendations will follow a study by Unicef together with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and the IDS (Institute for Development Studies Sabah) to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.

She said this when met by reporters after a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal at the PKNS building, Tuesday.

She said during the meeting, Shafie had expressed his interest and willingness to work together with the relevant agencies to come up with a feasible solution.

Hattingh said these recommendations was just some of the things discussed on issues that affected women and children in the State.

“It is very encouraging and the UN country team with Unicef is now conducting a study to get a better understanding of the complex issue so they would to be able to come up with policy recommendations as well as developing a platform for innovative solutions to address the issue.

“We are also looking at another study looking at poverty and looking at Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan mirroring the study we did in Kuala Lumpur on child poverty. So that would complement the findings of the other study.”

“We are glad that this issue is finally being looked at from a different angle, and that the state government is willing to really try and solve the problem,” she said.

“We also discussing about facilitating registration of the children especially in remote indigenous communities and making education more accessible to young people in the state and promoting inclusive education for children with disabilities. Unicef has been working in Sabah to find solutions to these issues and we are looking forward to supporting the state government in addressing this and moving forward as well together with the other UN agencies looking for economic opportunities and skills training for young people to make them employable.”

When asked was there any noticeable improvement on the status of stateless children here, Hattingh replied there was none yet but was encouraged by the chief minister’s willingness to address the issue where it is a human rights and development issue and should not just be viewed as a security issue.

“Before it was seen purely as a security issue and this stopped progress. Now it is seen as a development issue and there is willingness to address from it from a human rights perspective as well as it is also an economic issue as well as these children don’t have access to basic education or health care which perpetuates a cycle of poverty.

“Now there is an opportunity to make a difference and give these children the opportunity to develop to their full potential.” Hattingh said a big step would be to recognise the existing alternative learning centres and if they can be legalised then there would be more support towards them and improve the quality of education they provide.

On the issue of child marriage in Malaysia, Hattingh said Unicef emphasises that 18 should be the minimum age for marriage without exception.

She said legislation alone was not enough and it needs to be accompanied by other measures such as support to ensure that young people can finish their secondary education.

Hattingh said there should be sexual reproductive health education also and making communities and families aware of the adverse effects of child marriage on a girl child especially and ensuring there is a social protection system to target children who are vulnerable, say of dropping out of school or child marriage and giving them opportunities so marriage is not a solution for teenage pregnancies or poverty.

by Neil Chan.

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Lower marital age regressive, exploitative

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Law Society (SLS) categorically opposes the recent statement by the Sabah Mufti Datuk Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar that the marriageable age of Muslims in Sabah be lowered to 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

Such a proposal is regressive, exploitative, and destructive to the future of a child, it said in a statement Wednesday.

“Malaysia, having ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 17th February 1995 (CRC), is obliged to take all available measures to make sure that children are protected, and their rights are respected and upheld. The CRC is an international treaty that recognises the human rights of children, defined as persons up to the age of eighteen years old. The CRC reflects the new vision of a child, that they are neither the property of their parents nor are they the helpless objects of charity.”

“They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. In this respect children have rights to physical protection, food, education, and health care which are essential and appropriate for their development into adulthood. They should not be getting married and having babies when they themselves are juveniles and are still vulnerable, and in need of physical, mental, and emotional nurturing.”

Dominic Ghani, the Chairman of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the SLS stated, “We believe and acknowledge that child marriages are not merely confined to the Muslim community but occur in the native communities as well.

Both the Islamic authorities and native customary heads would be wise to ensure that the respective religious texts / customary rights are to be progressively interpreted and to exercise their discretion cautiously until there is legislative intervention to ensure a minimum age of 18.”

“Only those beneficial practices which are in the best interest of all segments of humanity should be encouraged and observed. We therefore believe that the issue of child marriages involves a spectrum of interplay between a responsible government, removal of archaic policies detrimental to society at large and acceptance of the moral issues impacting or affecting upon our youths today.”

He further stated that “child marriages were a practice during the medieval era or dark ages (between the 5th and 15th century) and had existed then partly due to the fact that the life expectancy of an individual was generally less than 40 years of age due to war, disease, and famine. Now children should be given the freedom of choice and the right to decide who they want to marry when they reach the age of maturity.”

“Legally speaking, if they are not allowed to work, drive, or vote at 14, they should not be allowed to get married too.”

In response to the suggestion that a marriage is required to legitimise children born out of wedlock, the SLS is of the view that more emphasis needs to be placed on reproductive education and family planning as well advocating the health risks associated with having children below the age of 18.

The SLS therefore welcomes the recent statement by the Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Dato’ Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Dr. Wan Ismail that the Federal Government “will raise the

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System to register stateless kids

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Keningau: A system will be put in place to address the issue of late registration of births of children from mixed marriages where one parent is a Malaysian, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

He said a realistic and comprehensive approach is needed to not only resolve the problem but also to make sure those children would not be left out in securing education in this country.

“Young kids cannot go to school without proper identification documents. We are concerned for their wellbeing,” he told reporters when met after a “Day with the Chief Minister” programme, here, Friday.

Mohd Shafie said there is also a need to streamline regulations whereby either parent who is a local can register the births of their children.

“We must have a system, for example, if one of the parents is a local (while the parent with a different nationality is absent in the family), we must consider (the local parent to register the children’s birth).

“But, under the law, only the wife is considered. If the husband is a local and the wife is not around, then he can’t get it (register children’s birth),” he said.

He said there is a genuine concern about such parents who are unable to register their children to obtain MyKad and these children would grow up without proper documentation and would, thus, be deprived of secondary education through their stateless status.

“These people are Sabahans. We need to resolve their problems. A system must be in place for them to get their documents as soon as possible and not wait until they are grown up,” he said.

He said there were problems of local mothers left with children through illegal marriages with foreigners, and also local men left with children from their illegal marriage with foreigners.

On a proposal by District Officer Yusop Osman for a base to be set up here as it is an entry point for people from Indonesia and Brunei, Shafie said the State Government is looking into it.

He said it would reduce the burden on security surveillance. There are 255 policemen in Keningau, Nabawan, Tambunan and Sook.

“The State Government will look into our capabilities as there are many areas that need (to improve) its security, especially the East Coast that is facing problems,” said Shafie, who is also Chairman of Sabah Security Committee.

“We are also asking for security to be tightened in the form of deterrence at the borders or the placement of equipment to curb potential threats.”

Shafie said the programme, the second to be held since the Parti Warisan Sabah-led government took office, was meant for officials to go to the ground and understand the needs of the people.

Shafie, who is making his first official visit to the interior since becoming Chief Minister, also looked at local issues, including land matters and requests for low cost homes, among other issues.

“This is a new government and, therefore, I urge top officials, government agencies and departments to be efficient and effective in reaching out to and assisting the people.

“At the same time, I would also urge the people to change their mindsets and attitudes,” he said, referring to embracing technology to boost agricultural productivity.

In a related matter, mobile courts are available to assist locals obtain identity documents and late birth certificate registration from the National Registration Department.

Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who accompanied his judicial officers on the Mobile Court in Keningau, told reporters that the mobile court has assisted some 50,000 rural Sabahans obtain their ICs and birth certificates from the NRD since 2008.

“If we don’t do this, they will become stateless. And it would be sad if they go to hospitals and have to pay like foreigners when they are also Malaysians,” he said.

He said that if marriages were legally done, it could be handled by NRD, but if it’s not and involves children with a single parent, it has to be handled by the court.

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Greater emphasis should be given to safety and health in boarding schools, says Lee Lam Thye

Thursday, September 20th, 2018
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye. (NSTP/IHSAN NIOSH)

LABUAN: More focus should be given to safety and health aspect sat boarding schools, said National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said this was because students and most of the teachers and support staff were at the premises most of the time.

The situation in boarding schools is also different from normal schools where students who stay at home would return to their respective houses after classes and co-curricular activities.

“Given the enormous responsibility of the boarding school management, I would like to call for a more efficient occupational safety and health (OSH) management system to prevent any untoward incidents and illness at their premises,” he said.

“Management of such schools should set up a Safety and Health Committee and adopt the concept of ‘Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Risk Control’ (HIRARC).

“If HIRARC concept is practiced, teachers and students will become more aware of risky activities, which may lead to accidents if not properly addressed.

“Boarding schools like SM Sains Labuan should get more attention because students are either in the school building or dormitory most of the time,” he said after launching the ‘OSH in School’ programme at SM Sains Labuan today.

Also present was Niosh Sabah and Labuan regional manager Wan Sarman Sakan, SM Sains Labuan Alumni Association (SAMUDERA) president Suhaili Dikar and Labuan Education Director Raisin Saidin.

Lee said under the OSH Act 1994, the school administration had the responsibility to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all parties at their premises.

He said there have been accidents at schools which involved teachers and students falling from school buildings, being hit by a goal post, fires and gas leaks.

By Kristy Inus.

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Build positive habits that can save lives

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
Children are more at risk to suffer from vehicular heatstroke because they are not built for heat. Their body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults and the temperature of a car can spike 20 degrees in 20 minutes.

HABITS. They come in various forms and shapes. I will categorise them in two categories — the good and the bad.

Psychologists are saying that habit formation is the process by which new behaviours become automatic. Here is an interesting fact, apparently nearly 50 per cent of our actions are derived from habits. says: “Forty per cent of your actions are not conscious decisions but habits. So, habits are a big part of your life — and a lot of the time you don’t even notice it!”

I bet all of us have gone through moments without having any recollection of the whole process taken to complete a task.

The best example will be driving. I have been driving since the early 90s. When I was engrossed in my thoughts while driving, I would occasionally be taken by surprise upon reaching my destination because I cannot recall the turns, the signals and the stops made to reach the place.

When this happens, I always count my blessings because I reached my destination safely and did not harm anyone. It looks like my driving habit kicks in and I am on auto-drive mode when I am behind the wheel.

You may be wondering why am I harping on habit. It caught my interest after reading a news report about a three-year-old toddler who died after she was accidentally left inside a locked school van under the blazing sun. The poor child died from vehicular heatstroke.

My instant thought was that if the van driver had developed the habit of peeking inside his vehicle before locking up, the tragedy could have been avoided.

Perhaps, it is time to make it compulsory for all registered school van drivers to develop that habit of checking before we allow our children to take a ride in their vans.

Other than school bus drivers, it is wise to reinforce the same habit among parents as well to check their vehicles before locking them up. We have often read of how parents have left their children in cars and usually the
outcome ends with injuries or death.

In the United States, CNN has reported that an average of 37 children die each year in hot cars based on data provided by, a child-safety advocacy group.

Children are more at risk to suffer from vehicular heatstroke because they are not built for heat as their body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults, and the temperature of a car can spike 20 degrees in 20 minutes., a data site run by Jan Null from the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, has shared jaw-dropping statistics about child vehicular heatstroke death with 781 fatalities recorded since 1998 in the US alone.

Based on media reports, has discovered that 54 per cent of the 700 vehicular heatstroke death from 1998 to 2017 were due to child forgotten by caregiver; 27 per cent involved children playing in an unattended vehicle, 18 per cent involved children intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult, and one per cent due to unknown circumstances.

Since Malaysia is a tropical country, the mercury reading is quite high mostly throughout the year and the Meteorological Department recently reported that the current hot spell could still occur during the southwest monsoon period which is expected to come to an end by the end of September.

The department said during the monsoon period, the maximum temperature in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak was forecast to range between 34 degrees Celsius and 37 degrees Celsius. In this respect, all of us should make it a habit to check the back seat to make sure there is no child left behind.

The danger of vehicular heatstroke especially on children has prompted several car makers to come up with a system that will alert drivers to check for occupants in the back seat. Kudos to these car makers. Similar safety features should be installed in our locally-made cars too.

In some countries, their school and day care centre operators are using notification tools to alert families when a child is absent. One of the tools is Tadpoles, an app used annually by more than 3,000 child-care centres, which recently has launched its “Unexpected Absence” feature.

A recent incident happening here in Malaysia involving a three-year-old boy who was unintentionally left behind at a seafood restaurant in Melaka by his large family of 30 is another reason why we should develop a habit of doing a head count after every outing.

How to develop a habit? Experts are saying with enough repetition and reinforcement

A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers were reported in the 1990s to have discovered a neurological process that is at the core of every habit, involving cue, routine and reward. The cue and the reward apparently have a very strong influence in creating habits.

By Azura Abas.

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Sabah health department will also focus on pre-schoolers to tackle HFMD in the state

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
Dr Christina Rundi was speaking after launching the World Breastfeeding Week themed” Breastfeeding:Foundation of Life” at state Federal Administrative Complex here. Pix by Lano Lan

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Health department will also focus on children outside schools to tackle hand, foot and mouth disease in the state.

As of 3pm yesterday, the state recorded 2,611 cases, with 24 schools or classes still being closed.

The highest incidence of 564 cases was reported here, followed by Beaufort (393), Penampang (258) and Sandakan (221).

Its director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi said from their records, there were also cases involving children below the age of two who did not go to school.

“These children could either get it from their schooling siblings or contracted the disease while at public places.

“Whenever we detect a case, the department will also trace others (who might have been in contact with the infected person),” she said, adding there was an increase of cases but it was not drastic.

Dr Christina was speaking after launching the World Breastfeeding Week themed” Breastfeeding:Foundation of Life” at state Federal Administrative Complex here.

As for the Avian flu incidence in Tuaran, Dr Christina said teams from the department and the Veterinary Services were monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

Dr Christina Rundi was speaking after launching the World Breastfeeding Week themed” Breastfeeding:Foundation of Life” at state Federal Administrative Complex here. Pix by Lano Lan

“The H5N1 virus affects birds but it is also zoonotic in nature (which can be transmitted to humans).

“But for now, there is no transmission to humans at Kampung Kauluan,” she said.

Meanwhile, based on global data, only 67.4 per cent of babies were successfully given exclusive breastmilk for six months while only 45 per cent managed to continue the practice up to two years.

As of today, 21 government hospitals and 94 health clinics were recognised as having baby-friendly health facilities in Sabah.

“The health department also welcomes suggestions (from Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development) to have child care centres at our workplaces.

“We are looking seriously at whether identified opera.

By Olivia Miwil.

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Only one of 10 schools in Sabah affected by HFMD closed – director

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Maimunah Suhaibul

KOTA KINABALU: Ten schools from across state were reported to have been affected by the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), as of July 19.

These schools include SK Kiau of Kota Belud, SK Kepayan and SK St Francis Convent of Kota Kinabalu, SKJC Chung Hwa, SK Pelakat, SK Merintaman, SK Pekan and SK Lubok Darat of Sipitang, SK Kelatuan of Papar as well as a school in Sandakan.

However, State Education Director Datuk Hajah Maimunah Suhaibul clarified that not all of these schools would be closed. SJKC Chung Hwa was the only school that was ordered to close for of period 14 days.

“Only SJKC Chung Hwa has been closed so far. As for the rest of the schools, they were only ordered to close some of its classes. For instance, SK Kelatuan was only ordered to close its Standard Three classes,” Maimunah said when met at the Sabah Sports School Malaysia’s (SSMS) Outstanding Student Athletes’ Appreciation Ceremony on Thursday.

“SK Kiau has been closed since July 11. However, the (primary) school itself is not closed, only the pre-school is closed. There are two pre-school classes in that school. Actually, there were only two pre-school students that were infected,” she further clarified.

Maimunah advised the students who were infected to stay away from school and rest at home instead.
“I advise schools to be constantly alert with any updates regarding this issue. If any of their students are experiencing symptoms, they should report promptly,” Maimunah said.

On Wednesday, it was reported that Sabah had registered 1,605 cases of HFMD up until July 14, this year. State Health Department Director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi disclosed that an average of 58 cases were reported every week.

It is understood that HFMD can be caused by several types of viruses that infect children. The virus is spread through contact with the affected person¡¦s saliva, blister and infected stools.

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