Yesterday (Friday, Oct 5), Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil announced that a Child Protection Policy will be tabled in the Cabinet after Hari Raya Aidlifitri.
The policy is aimed at creating a safe environment for children and to increase alertness on the children's well-being.
Shahrizat, according to Bernama, caters for children-related organisations such as non-governmental organisations, government institutions, schools, kindergartens and hospitals.
She said this when chairing a meeting on violence against women and children at her ministry,
Shahrizat also spoke about getting the Education Ministry to draw up educational and awareness programmes for children on ways to avoid dangerous situations.
Read the story here.
This is good and I am all for the policy and everything that has been said at the meeting. But I believe that we should be going forward and directly address the issue of abducted children in the aftermath of the brutal murder of 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin last month.
Yes, we can minimise the incidents of children being abducted if certain measures are being taken.
Getting the education ministry to play its part is good because teaching children early about protecting their own safety goes a long way in preventing them from being abducted.
Speaking of which, let me tell you that only a few days ago, at about 3pm as I was driving past Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail 2, I saw two children - boy and a girl - outside the school gate.
The school faces a stretch of road and the Taman Lembah Kiara and at 3pm, it can be pretty quiet and lonely.
I stopped my car, got out and approached the children.
The school seemed quiet but the gate was open and there were a couple of cars parked, indicating the presence (inside) of a couple of teachers.
I asked the children why they were still around after school hours. The older child (the boy, maybe 8 year-old) said that their van would be late.
They live in Sungai Penchala, he said.
Perhaps, I could send them home -- something I have done several times in my life time.
But I decided that that would not be a good idea because, well, the next time , they might just accept a ride from anyone.
Besides, that will unnecessarily cause undue worry to the van driver.
So, I took them into the school compound, at the guard house which was empty. I did not see the security guard around.
I waited with them for a while until I saw some teachers. I did what any adult would do -- remind the children not to wait outside the school when their van is late.
Maybe I was paranoid. Maybe there were teachers keeping a watch on them from upstairs.
Still, the idea of the kids waiting outside the school gate represented an incident that was waiting to happen.
Now, what if the kids, or one of them were/was abducted?
Will we go back to pointing fingers or act swiftly to get the child back safely?
This is what we should be addressing following the tragedy that befell little Nurin -- to act swiftly to get back children safely in the event of an abduction.
Surely we have realised that there has been one case (of missing children) too many.
Surely we should be working to devise an alert/warning system to save abducted children, to prepare us for that tragic eventuality when another Nurin happens.
Because it will happen. That is something we have to face up with.
No matter how perfect we want our world to be, it will not be. You and I know that.
Yes. Keep on reminding parents to be vigilant. Keep on reminding them that they are responsible for the safety of their kids. Keep doing all that because we can never remind ourselves enough.
But, we have to go beyond that.
Prevention is better than cure, they say. But in cases of child abduction, it is way past prevention because a child has been abducted.
Have we not learnt anything from Nurin's abduction and brutal murder? It is about preventing a child who has been abducted from being brutalised and murdered by putting pressure on the perpetrators to release him/her.
We cannot be going backwards. We have to deal with the problem at hand. I hate to throw a cliche here, but we have to think out of the box. The thing is we don't really have to try hard because we have seen how successful other countries have been in saving the lives of abducted children.
On one hand, we acknowledge the serious problem of child trafficking in this region and across the continents, yet we are not helping to arrest it.
What the ministry should be recommending is a devise akin to AMBER ALERT.
I cannot see why no one who is in position to help introduce this is not doing so.
It sure looks like it will be Citizens For Nurin Alert because those who should be listening and acting are not doing so. Or are they going in a roundabout way of dealing with the problem?