BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of child protection cases over the past five years, said the the minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in a message to mark World Children’s Day on Wednesday.

A further report from the Royal Brunei Police Force showed that the number of child abuse cases rose from 43 in 2014 to 56 in 2018.

“There is an opportunity for all parties to work together to broaden the platforms for the community to file complaints, as well as strengthen monitoring systems so that intervention or assistance can be provided as soon as possible,” said YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin.

In October, the government launched a new helpline called ANAK 121 for reporting cases of abuse, neglect and bullying of children, as well as missing children, child trafficking and child pornography. 

This is the thirteenth year Brunei will celebrate World Children’s Day. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely-adopted human rights treaty in the world. 

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child has improved the lives of children worldwide by increasing the rate of survivability of children under five years old, and nearly reducing half of the number of malnourished children,” the minister said.

In line with the theme of World Children’s Day 2019, “For Every Child, Every Right”,  the Brunei government has adopted a holistic approach to ensure children are always safe, he added. 

Several initiatives have been introduced this year, such as updating the licensing process for child care centres, which now requires centres to be reviewed by the Criminal Record and Fingerprint Investigation Department, Traffic Investigation and Control Department, Fire and Rescue Department, Health Service Department and Town and Country Planning Department.

The Ministry of Health also introduced nutrition and physical activity guidelines for child care centres, which is aimed at supporting healthy lifestyle practices from an early age to reduce non-communicable disease later in life.

As the government agency entrusted with advocating for the well-being and development of children, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports will continue to execute the Children’s Well-Being Plan so that no child is left behind, the minister said. 

“Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and loving family, to be protected [and live] to their fullest potential. 

“With the cooperation of all parties under the whole of nation approach, this goal will become a reality.”

This Sunday, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports will be organising several events at Taman SOAS to mark World Children’s Day.