BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A total of 251 children and young persons are currently placed on the newly launched child protection register after they were identified to be at risk of abuse, neglect and other welfare issues.

All of the 251 active cases were classified as yellow (moderate) or red (urgent) categories under a three-colour coding system.

On Monday, the Register of Children and Young Persons in Need of Protection (RCYPNP) was launched as part of the national framework on child protection to establish a centralised data system on vulnerable children.

The register will help the government formulate, monitor and evaluate child protection policies more efficiently, Permanent Secretary of Culture, Youth and Sports Hjh Nor Ashikin Hj Johari said during the launch.

She said the register will be implemented in two phases.

As the focal and lead agency overseeing data collection, the Community Development Department (JAPEM) will use the system in the first phase before it is made available to other agencies in the second stage.

MCYS permanent secretary Hjh Nor Ashikin Hj Johari speaks during the launch of Register of Children and Young Persons in Need of Protection on May 16, 2022. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Siti Zaharah Hj Abdul Razak, JAPEM assistant director of Family, Women and Children Division, said training needs to be conducted before proceeding to the second phase of implementation.

“We still need to sit down with the agencies because like any other database, we have to do it step by step and take into account security and confidentiality factors,” she told The Scoop.

The register is expected to facilitate inter-agency data sharing and monitoring of children or young people who need immediate protection.

JAPEM in a statement said the national framework focuses on children and young people under the age of 18.

The framework defines child abuse as an act by parents, carer or any persons who cause harm to a child, be it physically, emotionally or sexually, and is determined based on the evaluations of professionals. 

Child abuse can come in the form of physical; emotional/psychological; sexual; neglect; exposure to domestic violence, as well as exposure/misuse of drugs and harmful substances. 

The framework also sets out the country’s priorities in improving the protection of vulnerable children and young people. 

Under the framework, frontline workers will use four Sectoral Assessment Protocols (SAPs) to handle and register cases of children and young people who need safeguarding.

The four SAPs are the main sectors involved in child protection — social services, education, health and enforcement sectors.

Through their respective SAP, agencies will be able to identify vulnerable children and young people and conduct preliminary screening of reports received, said Acting Community Development Officer Syifa Syaheerah Abu Hanif.

“It will also allow them to determine the risk level of the cases using the green, yellow or red colour coding system,” she said.

Green refers to mild cases that are handled and monitored by the sectors and do not require referrals to the child protection system.

“What constitutes a green case? To give a scenario, a child attending school may look unkempt and have cuts, but upon further assessment, it was determined that the child injured himself, so it is not classified as abuse.

“The agency involved will continue to monitor and if child abuse happens, the [colour code] will change to yellow and [the case] will be filed into the system,” said Syifa Syaheerah.